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, 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 two 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 – email@example.com
www.videocallwithkids.com – Like us on Facebook.
It’s so much fun to share your love face-to-face with those you are separated from. Skype and FaceTime can help you to give the best Valentine’s gift of all. It’s easy and it’s free! Almost all computers come with a video call application (app). Apple computers come with FaceTime and those using Microsoft Windows come with Skype. You can download Skype to any computer if you don’t have it.
Parents and grandparents separated from the children they love can talk about what love is and their love for the child. “Daddy loves you and I’m so happy to see you on this special day.” Read to the child one of many children’s books with a Valentine’s theme, here are just a few:
Happy Valentine’s Day, Curious George by N. DiAngelo and Mary O’Keefe Young
My Fuzzy Valentine (Sesame Street) by Naomi Kleinberg and Louis Womble
Amelia Bedelia’s First Valentine by Herman Parish and Lynne Avril
The Story of Valentine’s Day by Nancy Skarmeas
Don’t forget to blow a kiss when you say good-by. Even very young children enjoy catching your kisses and sending their love to you with a kiss on a video call.
If the teens you want to stay in touch with are reluctant to communicate try Skype or FaceTime. My friend Barbara recently told me that her teen grandchildren were communicating less often than when they were younger. Then she discovered Skype and began to enjoy the video chats so much more than telephone calls. Being able to see expressions and changes as children grow – and grow up – is a precious gift. With video chats parents and grandparents who are separated from their children can continue to play an important role in providing guidance to teens if they continue to be available to communicate on tough issues.
In my book Learn To Video Call With Children I provide examples of open-ended questions that will get more than a yes or no answer. The questions are appropriate for all ages, including teens. Some examples are: Can you tell me what you know about that? What is the best thing that happened today? What is the worst thing that happened? What do you think you should have done?
Growing up isn’t easy. Many teens assume that parents and grandparents don’t understand them – and sometimes we don’t. It is not unusual to experience a disconnect with teens. Some key points that you can consider when video calling with teens:
1. Listen and try to understand without confronting, even if you disagree.
2. Keep your comments short and don’t lecture.
3. Ask questions to explore thoughts & behaviors before making assumptions.
4. Be willing to praise rather than criticize.
Here are some webpages with other suggestions:
Send me some of your favorite stories about communicating with teens using video call.
Did you know that Skype group calls are now free for all members? In the past a Premium Skype Membership was needed to make group calls so this is exciting. All Skype members can now make calls to more than one contact at the same time. While you are on a video call you just add another contact for a group call. Select the group icon; a list of contacts will appear. From the contacts tab, click and hold on the contact that you want to add to your group call and drag that contact to your group space. Repeat the process for all you want to include in the group. All contacts must be signed in to Skype to be added.
You can also set up a family or friends group in advance of your call by clicking on the Group icon and selecting the group members from your contacts. Skype recommends that for the best quality, add no more than five others to your call, although a total of ten users is possible. There are alternate ways to create a group so your might take a look at different options at www.support.skype.com and select the process that works best for you.
Share your video call ideas with me