Tag Archives: video chat with kids

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.

Show & Tell With Grammy and Video Chat

Show & Tell is a fun activity for video chat. “Let’s call Grammy, it’s her turn to Show & Tell.” This was a delightful request from my two school age grandchildren who love to play Show & Tell during a video chat. And it was my turn. I was gardening when they called, and I had just chopped off the top of a Ti plant. I knew exactly what they would enjoy seeing and hearing about.

I fired up my video chat app with one hand while holding a 3-foot cutting from the plant in the other hand. I relished the cheers and laughter when the kids spotted the large plant. The Ti plant has bold, colorful, foliage with streaks of pink, purple and green, it is impressive. We chatted about the plant, where it came from in my yard, how tall it could grow, and lastly, what I was going to do with it. I was going to plant it in a pot.

Some of our family’s best video chats were an old-fashioned Show & Tell session. A grandchild comes home from daycare or school with a work of art or a newly completed project and my daughter will suggest they call Grammy so she can see it. Another child might score a goal in a soccer match and call to describe the feat. If parents can take a few minutes to share the child’s excitement with other family members there is a lot of energy and good fun in the call.

Some advice to grandparents……if parents (especially working parents) know that they can make a quick video call to you, rather than have you expect to chat for a long time, they may do it more frequently. You will enjoy seeing the excitement in the child’s facial expression and well as hearing their voice. Over the years we have found that although longer calls with our adult children and grandchildren are wonderful, many of the shorter calls have been great fun!

What can you share with your grandkids?

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 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.

Babies and Toddlers Are Learning During Video Chat

I love seeing and talking to my grandchildren with video chat. It doesn’t surprise me then that interactive video chats can also be a means for babies and toddlers 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 not interactive, but mainly prerecorded video. Watching video is a sedentary activity, inactive rather than interactive.  A prerecorded video cannot interact with the child viewing it. Children spending too much passive screen time were found to have poor language skills and often missed out on other activities that were important for development.

Skype, FaceTime, Google Duo, Facebook, Zoom, and other video chat apps provide for an interactive relationship. 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 Myers’s study quickly noticed the difference between live and prerecorded video. Children were more interactive with FaceTime live video, than with the prerecorded video used in the study. They learned social information, and they preferred and recognized someone they had met via video chat rather than the instructor on a prerecorded video.  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 can represent quality time with your children or grandchildren. 

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.