Stumped about what to get for your favorite grandparent for Christmas, Hanuka or  a birthday? Whether you are searching for the perfect gift for a new Grammy or for seasoned grandparents, here is an idea that will bring grandparents closer to their grandchildren. It help them learn to Skype or FaceTime and make video chats more fun.

100+Fun Activities For Skype With Children is a simple to read book chock full of ways to improve video calls with infants, toddlers and school age children. Find it on Amazon.




Toddlers Are Learning During Skype and FaceTime Calls

I love seeing and talking to my grandchildren on Skype. It doesn’t surprise me then that interactive video calls can also be a means for toddlers and children to learn, and to develop and maintain relationships with others.

In the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics discouraged screen time for kids under 2 years of age. These guidelines were developed when the screen time was prerecorded video. This type of screen time is a sedentary activity, inactive rather than interactive.  These videos don’t react or respond to those viewing it. Children spending too much passive screen time were found to have poor language skills and to miss out on other activities that were important for development.

Skype and FaceTime are different. Lauren Myers, PhD and colleagues at Lafayette College have demonstrated that video chat provides for an interactive relationship with others. This is great news for grandparents and parents.

Children in Myer’s study quickly noticed the difference between live and prerecorded video. Children were more interactive with the FaceTime live video, rather than the prerecorded video used in the study. They learned social information – they preferred and recognized someone they had met via video chat.  They also learned cognitive information like new words and patterns.

The conclusion is that children will engage and learn from screen time interactions. Video chat with Skype and FaceTime can represent quality time with your children or grandchildren.

Contact me and share your video call ideas www.videocallwithkids.com

Skype & FaceTime With Children Hands-Free

If you are using a tablet or phone to Skype or FaceTime try using a stand, mount or holder to enjoy being hands-free. When I shared with my friend Kathy that I talked, read and
Stand goose neckplayed with my grandchildren on Skype she was amazed. If you are using a desk top computer or laptop on a desk it’s not a problem being hands-free. For tablets and phones innovative stands, mounts and holders can make video chat easier and more fun. Think about puppet shows, showing pictures in a book that you are reading, and teaching a child to knit while using your tablet.wall mount

There are tablets like the Microsoft Surface Pro computer that have the stand built in. Stands for your existing tablet or phone are also available in many sizes, and in a variety of materials and prices. Finding a stand that works for you is a snap. There are reviews of these products online to help you make a decision that is best for you. Here are some choices that you may want to explore.

StandStands, mounts & holders vary greatly in price from $7.99 to over $300. At the top of the price range is a beautifully designed and sturdy, adjustable, bed and floor model by Flote.

Archeer is company that sells stands starting at $7.99.

If you want to look at a variety of stands & holders from other companies search tablet stands on Amazon or check your local Staples, Best Buy or Target for other options.

Enjoy your next video chat hands-free and imagine the possibilities.

Contact me and share your video call ideas www.videocallwithkids.com

Fun With Puppets on Skype and FaceTime

Envision playing with puppets with children or grandchildren on Skype or FaceTime.  My friend Susan recently was surprised to learn that I wrote a book containing 100+ activities for Skype and FaceTime. She said that when she Skypes she just chats with her grandchildren. However, she was curious about why I would plan an activity for Skype or FaceTime calls. Calling and chatting is great but there are also so many fun activities that are interactive and that children enjoy as much, if not more that talking.

Playing with puppets is fun for toddlers and older children as well. The first puppet that I MelissaandDougadded to my collection was a small, bright red lobster. It’s a finger puppet that I purchased in a children’s store while traveling in Maine. We named him Red. Then I found other finger puppets in a Carter’s Outlet store and the tiger and dragon puppets joined the group.

Melissa and Doug have a large collection of soft puppets for a variety of ages.  My younger grandchildren have played with the Brave Buddies puppets while visiting with me in Florida. The puppets are comfortable for a child as young as 2 years old. They are also perfect to use for a Skype or FaceTime visit. If you are a parent who travels for work consider adding a puppet to your suitcase and have the puppet share with your child where the two of you are, what your day has been like, and that you both miss being with them. Children like to play so don’t hesitate to play with them during your video call.
To see other  puppets click on the picture of the puppets. 

Contact me and share your video call ideas www.videocallwithkids.com


100+ Fun Activities For Skype With Children

100+ Fun Activities For Skype With Children  is now available as both an eBook and paperback book on Amazon. Since 2010 when I first interacted with my grandson on Skype I have been on a mission to help families connect with video call.


Discover easy, age appropriate & educational activities for Skype, FaceTime, and video call with children. With video call you can see and interact with the person that you are calling – it’s much more fun than a telephone call. Learn how Skype & FaceTime can connect you with family when you travel for work, if you are in the military, are divorced, or miles away from grandchildren. Readers will also find useful advice for communicating with children and young adults from infancy through the college years. Also included are important internet safety tips for children and adults. Get ready to enjoy Skype and FaceTime with the children you love.


The eBook can be easily downloaded and taken along with you when you travel. It is short and inexpensive but chock full of ideas that you can quickly access.

Readers will find age appropriate activities and advice for communicating with children and young adults from infancy through the college years.

•  Explore more than one hundred ideas for fun activities to enjoy with video call apps like Skype and FaceTime  

•  Learn how to begin connecting with infants and babies during a video chat 

•  Explore ideas for video calls with school age children, teens and college age student

•  Find useful tips for improving communication with children

•  Discover the value of video chat for grandparents  

•  Learn how to stay connected to your child or grandchild after divorce

•  Learn about internet safety for both children and adults

 Get ready to enjoy Skype and FaceTime with the children you love.




Dyslexia, Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangouts

Dyslexia, a specific learning disability, is quite common in children. The prevalence is estimated to be between 10-15 percent of children in the US, although far fewer children are diagnosed.

The child with dyslexia may have difficulty in reading, spelling and performing skills related to the use of printed language. It is thought that dyslexia is an inherited trait which runs in families. It is not low intelligence or laziness.

Children who have dyslexia benefit greatly by reading with an adult. Being a child’s reading buddy is a wonderful role for grandparents or for a parent who is not in residence because of work travel, military assignment, or divorce.

Reading using video call apps like Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts you can help a child advance their reading skills. There are also several new apps that can be downloaded either free or purchased that also can make reading fun. Some apps are just for iPad users; however, Ustyme is one that has been developed for both iPad and PC use. http://www.ustyme.com/index.html. Others include Rootz, http://www.family-rootz.com/ and Caribu http://caribuapp.com/.

In the United States schools have a legal obligation to help children with dyslexia. Best results are achieved when dyslexia is diagnosed early, in kindergarten or first grade.
Reading with an adult using video call apps can be great fun. Take turns with the child, each reading one page. Asking questions about the story helps develop comprehension and thinking skills. Learning the sounds that letters make and developing phonemic awareness is important for developing skill in reading. To learn more about the techniques that teachers and tutors use for enhancing reading skills search the internet for Five Big Ideas in reading.

To learn more about dyslexia explore the internet. Two sites I can recommend are:


Have fun reading and share your ideas with me


Video chat apps like Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangout are wonderful tools that keep you connected to loved ones. In 2012 Microsoft and AARP released their Connecting Generations study which showed that today’s social technology like Skype and FaceTime helps families connect and improves inter-generational relationships. I’ve written about keeping children safe online but adults and especially older adults must take steps to stay safe and protect their privacy. Scammers specifically target seniors so grandparents enjoy this wonderful technology but learn to use it safely.

Start by creating a strong PASSWORD for your video chat application and all other online sites that you create. A strong password is one that will not be easily broken. It may also prevent others from hacking, or gaining access to the information on your computer. If you think using the word “password” for your password or the numerical sequence 1-2-3-4-5 is safe, think again. These passwords are among the most commonly used and easy to break passwords.

Many safety experts suggest using a three word phrase and modifying it to include letters with mixed cases, symbols and numbers. For example instead of “over ten million” – substitute numbers and symbols and vary the case, for example: oVer10mi$li0N.

With Skype you will create your unique Skype name and a password. FaceTime requires you to use your Apple ID and email address, and with Google Hangout you will need a Google+ account with your username and password.

PROTECT PERSONAL INFORMATION by opting out of entering your birth date, location or telephone number into the profiles of video chat and social media sites. This information may be available to the public. Skype does not require that you enter this information.

Your CONTACTS are those people that you know and want to communicate with. Manage your contacts carefully and don’t add any individual that you don’t know to your contact list. 

Look for the PRIVACY SETTINGS when using Skype and other apps. Select the option to allow calls, screen sharing, videos and IM (instant messages) only from those people in your contact list. With Skype you can locate the Password, Profile and Privacy settings by selecting the word Skype on the top left of the homepage. FaceTime is activated when you set up your Apple device. You can find the FaceTime settings by launching the Settings and tapping on the FaceTime button.

PROTECT YOUR COMPUTER with an antivirus program and a firewall. A firewall protects your computer from unauthorized access to or from your computer. A router can provide this firewall. Secure your WiFi router with a password so others will not have access to your computer.

Be on guard when you are using your computer or telephone. Never open ATTACHMENTS or click on links in email from someone that you don’t know. Something as simple as a cartoon or poem can carry viruses into your device. Even if you receive email from a person you recognize if there isn’t a message, other than a link, do not click on that link. Some of these links come from computers that have been hacked.

Enjoy connecting with family and stay safe. 

Contact me and share your video call ideas www.videocallwithkids.com


Skype and Your College Student

Using Skype is one of the best ways to stay connected to your college age children & grandchildren. My Mom always said “you never stop being a parent”. Those words have repeated in my mind many times over the years. However, in addition to the trials of being a parent we also get to enjoy the joys of seeing our children’s successes as they head off to college.

Along with typical college supplies, today’s students are bringing Skype to college with them on their smart phones and computers. Colleges are developing Virtual Advising Centers. Once the teen becomes a student on campus, virtual appointments can be scheduled with their assigned advisor.  Skype is also developing a Resident Advisor Program where students can ask questions and share information with other students.

Most high school students have learned to connect with peers electronically. Now you will want to transfer that skill to staying connected with family. Telephone calls are fine but they can’t compare with actually seeing the person you miss being with. Facial expressions provide clues to feeling that may not be expressed.

Show and tell is still a favorite activity for students as they go off to college. The dorm room, the crowd at the football game, and a new friend are all fun for parents to see on Skype. Younger siblings who miss their older brother or sister can connect in this  special way.

Most important is to discuss how, when and how often you and your student will communicate so that you are not disappointed, and the student has the opportunity to learn to become independent.

Skype and The Teen Book Club

Communicating with teens is not always easy. My friend Janet recently told me about the Book Club that she started with two teenage grandchildren who live in different households.

One of the best ways to connect with young children during a video call is to read a book. As children get older they will be excited to read a book to you. Discussing books that teens have read and enjoyed is a great topic for video chat.  Janet uses the Skype group call feature so that she and the two teens, who live in different states, can meet together to share their thoughts about a story. The Club meets every two weeks during the school year and more frequently during school vacations.

While checking Amazon and Barnes & Noble online I discovered Anita Silvey. This author has published several book guides for children and teens including 500 Great Books for Books for teens192x300Teens published in 2006. Both websites will give you ideas for books for children & teens. Also, check with the experts at your local bookstore and library.

Janet shared that one of the favorite reads for her online Book Club was The Book Thief, a book that I enjoyed myself but thought of as an adult book. When I researched the book I discovered that it has won numerous children’s book awards including the School Library Journal Best Book of The Year, Publisher’s Weekly Best Children’s Book of The Year, and Book Sense Book of the Year Award for Children’s Literature.  Incidentally, the book was made into a movie which also was an award winner. Now Janet plans to watch the movie with the two teens the next time they get together. A Movie Club may be in the making!

Contact me and share your video call ideas


Skype, FaceTime, Google + and Facebook all have video chat options.  It’s important to know that these are designed for adult use. Children need to be protected from internet fraud when using these apps. Danger is lurking as we see children under  the age of twoshutterstock_98683820 who have quickly learned to swipe the face of tablets and phones  to gain access.

Vigilance in using and checking the privacy settings on all devices that a child will have access to is the first step. Young children should never use a video chat app without supervision. Discussion with the child about internet safety is also crucial.  Accepting a calls from someone not in the child’s contact list can be dangerous – predators often mask as friends. Parents must discuss the importance of never accepting calls from anyone the child does not know.  Consider visiting the FBI Online Safety site with your child  – click here: https://www.fbi.gov/fun-games/kids/kids-safety.

Skype’s provides this warning and good advice on their website:

Skype’s websites and software are not intended for or designed to attract users under the age of 13. We encourage parents to be involved in the online activities of their children to make sure that no information is collected from a child without parental permission.
We take the safety of Skype end users very seriously and have security measures in place to help protect children, who have appropriate parental permissions to use Skype, from being contacted by strangers. These include:

  • Only allowing people in the child’s contact list to contact the child using Skype, including voice and video calls, chat messages and sharing screens.
  • Hiding the age, date of birth and gender of children on profile pages, so others cannot see this information.
  • Hiding children from search results unless they are returned as an exact match by Skype Name or email.

Important: Our security measures are based on the date of birth provided by the end user when creating a profile, so it is very important to enter the correct information.

FaceTime recommends parents use Settings to turn off the option to use FaceTime and turn it on when a parent is present. For older children who know how to get to the settings you may want to consider a password to protect the device.

Consider a program like Skypito for younger children – click here for more information:

The Intel Security Company also has a guide for keeping video chats safe – click here:  https://blogs.mcafee.com/consumer/parents-to-know-video-chat

If safely used video chatting is great for kids. They can stay in contact with a parent who is not home, call grandparents, do homework, and be with friends. Share some of the ways that you keep your children safe online – ltibbles@videocallwithkids.com
www.videocallwithkids.com – Like us on Facebook.