Category Archives: Tips for Video Call

Video call tips

Turn boring video chats with kids into great bonding experiences that are fun

Video chat with child

Video chats with our kids and grandkids can be great fun, but my neighbor Susan tells me that her chats are not much fun. With a little effort you can turn boring video chats into a great bonding experience that children will enjoy. I’m going to tell you how.

Millions of families are benefitting from video chats to stay connected. I discovered video chat in 2010, Skype was 7 years old, and Facetime was just being released. Today we have many other video chat apps, including Zoom, Google Duo, and Facebook. Video chat is an extraordinary tool for parents and grandparents who are separated from their kids or grandkids.

Research has shown interactive chats are the most effective for building family bonds. An interactive chat consists of both action and communication. The action is what makes it different from a telephone call. When you interact with children, they become motivated to listen, watch what you are doing, and participate. For example, playing peek-a-boo is an interactive game that young children are enthusiastic about playing during a video chat.

After a decade of using video chat, I learned what makes chats with children fun and effective. I suggest the following:

  • Check with parents to select the best time to chat with infants and young children. New parents are often tired, and kids at any age when tired, hungry, or frustrated will not enjoy chatting. Talk with the child’s parents about the call length that is comfortable for both the parent and the child. Call at their convenience and do not overstay your visit. Prior to a chat, consider sending a simple text or making a phone call to ask when the best time to chat would be.
  • Know what children enjoy at different ages and stages of development. Ask about the child’s skills, preferred activities, and favorite toys. In addition, learn about age-appropriate activities at your local library or by using Internet resources like the CDC website. We know that infants respond to sound and touch. If the touch cannot be yours, a parent can hold the baby or stroke an arm while you are talking. A baby can learn to recognize your voice, even if you are not with the baby frequently. Toddlers like action, puppets, games, and demonstrating their new skills such as using pull toys or combing their hair. School age children have many interests that can be enjoyed during a video chat. Share jokes and riddles, read a chapter book together, play hangman, share a collection, sing songs, or play musical instruments.
  • Remember the attention span of young children is short. A two-year-old will be attentive for about 4 to 6 minutes. A four-year-old, 8-12 minutes. By six years children can enjoy chatting 12-18 minutes. You can often extend attention with interactions. Playing with puppets and props like dinosaurs, action figures, or stuffed animals promotes interaction and interest. Activities will draw a child’s attention to the screen. Positive responsiveness such as smiling, clapping, and praising extends attention span.
  • When toddlers stop engaging in a chat you can enjoy observing. Younger children sometimes leave the chat to play with toys on their own. Do not take this personally, instead ask the parent to adjust the position of the webcam so you can observe the child playing in the room. If you continue chatting with the parent, it is likely that the child will return to the screen to share a favorite toy with you or to rejoin the conversation.
  • Children love repetition. Once a child moves from one age to another, do not hesitate to go back to activities that they enjoyed when younger. Kids love returning to favorite songs, games, jokes, and books. My school age grandkids still enjoy showing me their favorite stuffed animals and action figures, and I share familiar toys that I collected for their virtual visits.
  • Teens prefer technology. Email, text, and video chat are the ways teens communicate today. Parents and grandparents who are separated from teens need to learn to use this technology. Being a good listener, without feeling like you must suggest solutions, works best with teens. Discussing books, movies, and the environment are all topics of interest to teens. Teaching skills like knit, or crochet, playing musical instruments together, or talking about investing and selecting a stock to follow might be a good connection with your teen. Video chat with each other while hiking, walking on the beach, or fishing, to share what each is doing.
  • Ask good questions. The secret to great conversations with children and teens is to ask questions that will produce more than a yes or no answer. Some examples include: Who made you smile today? What do you like most about school? Did you catch someone doing something funny today? I see that you lost your tooth…tell me about it? I feel sad about that; how do you feel? What can I do to help you?

Video chat has given me the opportunity to see and communicate frequently with my grandchildren who live a long distance away. Being able to watch those children grow motivated me to help other parents and grandparents to learn about the magic of video chat.

Lillian Tibbles, PhD is a grandmother, a retired family therapist and the author of three books about video chat with kids. Her latest book is How to Have Fun with Kids and Grandkids Using Video Chat.

Celebrate Thanksgiving with Grandchildren and Video Chat

With Thanksgiving 2020 fast approaching many families are concerned about getting together while the Corona virus remains a threat. A family video chat is a fun and safe ways to celebrate this holiday. Get creative with one of the many video chat apps like Zoom, Skype or FaceTime and enjoy being with those you love during this important holiday.

Here are some suggestions about video chats and celebrating Thanksgiving:

  1. Discuss Thanksgiving as a holiday that not only remember the pilgrims and Indians celebrating a harvest, but  an opportunity to explore the importance of thankfulness and gratitude.
  1. Share a virtual meal together. This celebration can be the day before or after the official day and still be a special event.
  1. Before the holiday children can talk about menu items for the celebration dinner. Involve children in discussing traditional Thanksgiving foods as well as sides and desserts they might suggest.
  1. Consider a video chat the morning of the holiday so children can see part of your meal preparation. With a portable device such as a phone or tablet you can demonstrate how you make a special dish or what you do to prepare for the meal.
  1. Have children share art projects related to the holiday either before, or on the holiday.
  1. Encourage children to participate in a special toast or prayer to start the meal.
  1. Lead a discussion about what gratitude is and have each participant, both children and adults, come prepared to share what they are grateful for or to talk about special times and people they experienced this year.
  1. Read children’s books like the Thankful Book by Todd Parr or Happy Thanksgiving Curious George by H.A. Rey.

Times are difficult for many families. Taking time to warmly and deeply express appreciation for kindness and benefits received can help us stay positive.

Lillian Tibbles PhD is the author of 3 books about Video Chat with Kids.
Her latest book How to Have Fun with Kids & Grandkids Using Video Chat is available
in both digital and print format.

Video Chatting with Kids Hands Free

Trying to hold a phone or tablet doesn’t allow for much action when video chatting with kids. Innovative stands, mounts and devices can free your hands for interactive video chats that are easier and more fun.

We know that interactive chats are best for building relationships with kids and for learning. Your hands need to be free for interactive calls. Think about puppet shows, showing pictures in a book that you are reading, and teaching a child to knit while using your tablet or phone. The child will also need their hands free to play with you or learn a skill.

When using a desk top computer, or laptop on a desk, it’s easy to be hands-free. There are tablets like the Microsoft Surface Pro computer that have the stand built in and covers for the iPad that can support a tablet. 

Consider a basic bed tray table for adults or children who are bedridden. There are also bed and floor stands made specifically for computers. Stands for your existing tablet or phone are available in many sizes, and in a variety of materials and prices. Explore the multilevel soft pillow stands, and goose neck phone and tablet holders. 

Finding a stand that works for you is a snap. There are reviews of these products online to help you make a decision about what is best for you. Search online for bed tables, bed trays, tablet stands, and phone stands.

Enjoy playing with grandchildren without having to balance your electronic device.

Lillian Tibbles is a grandmother and author of 3 books about Video Chat with Kids.
Her latest book How to Have Fun with Kids & Grandkids Using Video Chat is available
in both digital and print format.

How to Have Fun with Kids & Grandkids Using Video Chat

What are interactive video chats and why are they important for developing close bonds with children and grandchildren? The newest and most comprehensive book about video chat with children answers that question. Learn how to have fun while keeping children safe online.

Video chat is free, fun, easy to use, and one of the best ways for parents and grandparents to enjoy time with children who are miles away. This book is full of practical advice about how to make the best video calls, with over 100 suggestions for video chat activities with kids from infants to college age.

Video chats take place online. Danger is lurking as we see children under the age of two who, by watching parents, quickly learn to swipe the face of tablets and telephones to gain access. Learn about parental controls and privacy settings that will help you to keep your children safe online.

Learn about the “tech talk” and when you should start teaching children about internet safety. Know what  you need to teach your school age children and your teens to protect them. This is essential reading for parents who want to keep children safe online.

Discover

  • How interactive chats strengthen family bonds with kids
  • Why experts call video chat good screen time
  • Fun ideas for chats with all ages, infants to teens
  • Ideas for celebrating special occasions, birthdays, and holidays
  • How to stay connected after divorce
  • What you need to make a video call
  • The importance of Internet safety for children and adults

Lillian Tibbles is a grandmother and author of 3 books about Video Chat with Kids.
Her latest book How to Have Fun with Kids & Grandkids Using Video Chat is available
in both digital and print format.

5 Tips for Interactive Video Chat with School Age Kids

Engaging kids in a video chat can be a snap with a little preparation and a few fun, interactive activities. An interactive chat is one where there is action as well as communication. Interacting, rather than just chatting with children motivates them to pay attention, to participate, and to learn.

Start all chats with children and grandchildren by checking in with the parent. A  text or telephone call, confirming if it is a good time for a chat, will make your call welcome and more fun than chatting with a child who is tired, or hungry.

  • When communicating with school age children, talk to them in a mature manner as they will become insulted if they think you are treating them in a babyish way.
  • Sharing jokes and riddles is a favorite activity that will produce smiles & laughter. Consider purchasing a children’s joke book. Some of my favorites are Get the Giggles by David Bronwen, Laugh Attack by Highlights, or one of Rob Elliott’s Laugh Out Loud for Kids books. Try this one: What kind of bird has to wear a wig? A bald eagle.
  • Using a pad of paper or white board, play hangman selecting words that the child can easily identify. My granddaughter had recently lost her first tooth. Our word to spell that week was “tooth.”
  • Share objects found in nature that the child would see if they were visiting you. Shells, stones, plants, and a snakeskin are all of interest to children.
  • Reading is interactive if you use exaggerated expressions, sounds, ask questions, or take turns reading with the child. A chapter book during several video chats works well with older school age children.

Don’t forget to blow some kisses toward the screen at the end of the call. You can almost feel the affection headed in both directions.

Lillian Tibbles, PhD  is a grandmother and author of 3 books about Video Chat with Kids.
Her latest book How to Have Fun with Kids & Grandkids Using Video Chat is available
in both digital and print format.

How To Get Help With Skype For Video Chat

For those that are new to video chat consider using the Skype software. Skype, which is one of the most established video chat apps, has good access to support for users. It’s easy to find answers to your questions on the website Skype.com by selecting Get help at the top of the page, and then selecting Skype support. A page with a large search screen pops up. Just type in your question and click on the magnifying glass, or hit enter, to search for an answer. You can get Skype for your computer, without charge by selecting the link to download the software.  For tablets and phones you go to the app store for your devise and download the app. You will be instructed to create a user name and password. Skype is available for Apple and Android devices.

When you are signed in to use Skype you can also easily access this same help page. To the right of your name select the three small dots. Then select Help and feedbackA pop up box will appear where you can select Get help That also takes you to the Skype help page.

shutterstock_90272782-650If you are new to Skype select the smiley face icon to Get Started. Find the list for answers about the latest version of Skype, and below that a list for frequently asked questions – FAQ

You can find the answers on the help page about using Skype for messaging, connecting to Facebook, using different devices and much more………..

If you are a visual learner there are also short videos available on YouTube that will help you to enjoy using Skype. 

Lillian Tibbles is a grandmother and author of 3 books about Video Chat with Kids.
Her latest book How to Have Fun with Kids & Grandkids Using Video Chat is available
in both digital and print format.

Video Chat with Two and Three Year Olds

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Preschool children are on the go, running, climbing, and jumping. Their attention span is often short. Don’t expect a two year old to stay in front of a web cam for very long. Their attention span is about 3-6 minutes. Some of the best video calls at this age happen when the parent can position the computer so the web cam scans a large area of the room. Watch the child select toys to play with.

Parents can encourage interaction by suggesting the child show the caller a favorite toy. Often children will come smiling toward the computer to let you see what they have. Cars, trucks, pull toys, dolls, dress up clothes and costumes are all enjoyed at this age and can be shared with the caller.

Don’t be surprised if you preschooler who has enjoyed chatting unexpectedly decides that they don’t want to participate in a video chat. Enjoy chatting with parents or siblings and the reluctant participant may just saunter back to participate when they are ready. I have discovered that even on a day when a youngster is reluctant to interact he usually comes back to wave goodbye and throw some kisses my way.

Reading and Skype

Share stories with children or grandchildren on Skype no matter how far away you are. Reading to children on Skype or Face Time demonstrates your enthusiasm for reading and can encourage a child to read and love books. When reading to children during a video call shutterstock_57014594smtry using different voices for different characters or props to attract interest. Hold the book page close to the webcam after reading each page so the child can clearly see the pictures. Read poems and stories, and for older children, try newspaper or magazine articles.

Take a look at Pam Allyn’s book What to Read When for an extensive annotated list of more than three hundred book titles for children from birth to ten years. One of my grandson’s favorite books to read with me is Dinosaur. It has three sound buttons, stegosaurus’s sound, the sound of his stomping as he tries to find his friend Frog and the sound that Frog makes.

Sending a book that you have on Skype or Face Time to the child is a special gift.

If you have a favorite book to read on Skype contact me and let us know. 

Talking to Children on Skype and FaceTime

Communicating with children is sometimes a challenge, particularly when you are separated. Recently my friend Barbara told me that she sometimes found it difficult to find topics to talk withArtwork her grandchildren about while on Skype. Parents or grandparents can quickly learn to ask questions that will encourage conversation and get more than just a yes or no answer. In our family a favorite question is:

What was the best thing that happened today?

The following are ten basic questions that might help you get started during a video call:

1.     I heard that you had a great day today – can you tell me about it?

 2.     I heard that you had a rough day today – can you tell me about it?

 3.    What do you think you should have done?

4.     What will you do next time?

 5.     What happened next?

6.     What do you like to do after school?

 7.     I see you have a new haircut, new shirt, lost tooth….tell me about that?

 8.     I feel sad about that; how do you feel?

 9.     Can you tell me about your dog?

 10.  And then what happened?

 Don’t hesitate to ask children what they would like to talk about or share something that you did in your day. By age 3 many children have a vocabulary of several hundred words and can speak in sentences. Consider teaching a limerick, a song, or reading a poem or book that the child can enjoy. Don’t let the distance be a barrier to finding topics that you can enjoy together.

 

Contact me and share your video call ideas

 

 

How To Make A Skype Test Call

One of the features that I really like with the Skype app for video call is that you can make a Skype test call to check the sound of your computer speakers. Once you have signed on to your Skype account find the listing for Echo/Sound Test Service or Skype Test Call in Sound Testyour list of contacts.  If you don’t see Echo/Sound Test Service or Skype Test Call in your list of contacts type Test CallEcho in the search box right above your contacts and that should bring it up. Once you see the test, double click on the green call button and it will bring up the sound test window.

Click the green call button Test Callto start the test. Follow the instruction and you should hear a recording asking you to record a message. Record a short message…as simple as Testing 1-2-3. Once you stop speaking wait a few seconds and the test will play back your message. You will be able to hear and evaluate the quality of the sound. If you hear your own voice you have been successful in setting up your sound equipment. You then can click on the red telephone icon to hang up the test call. Red Phone

If you have a problem with the sound check out the troubleshooting videos in SKYPE HELP. Select HELP in the menu at the top of the page. This will bring up a page titled Solving Call Quality Problems (Windows Desktop). There are also links on this page for Mac and Linux users. Scroll down the page to find Audio in the list and follow that link to some helpful hints to solve a variety of common audio problems.

Follow these links to for instructions for Linux and Mac:

https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA11081/how-can-i-make-a-test-call-in-skype-for-linux

https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA10952/how-can-i-make-a-test-call-in-skype-for-mac-os-x

 ltibbles@videocallwithkids.com