December 31, 2009

How to Video Chat with Your Grandkids

Grammy Tanda and I love to spend time with our grandchildren in person, but since most of them live in three other time zones, we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like. So some of our most pleasurable moments are when we are chatting “face to face” over the Internet with our grandkids.

If you enjoy talking with your grandchildren on the phone, you will love video chatting even more! It’s video conferencing software you run on your computer that lets you talk with and see your family. It’s just like in the Jetsons cartoon—live audio and video.

What could be worth more than seeing the grin on your grandchild’s face when they see you talking with them on the screen? They’ll be proud to show you how much they’ve grown and to show off their first missing tooth. Even grandbabies will respond to your voice and smiling countenance.

Somethings are just better communicated face to face, where you can see expressions and gestures. Compared to letters, email and even telephone calls, video calls can make conversations much more interesting and intimate. You’ll have more to talk about, and your grandkids will more easily remember you or your face.

Now watch this video. It’s full of examples and cool ideas for you.

A grandparent’s job is to give positive encouragement; to be a cheerleader and a talent scout. ~Grammy Tanda Packer

Fun things you can do on your video chat: read storybooks and show them the pictures, make up stories, sing, dance, play games, help with their homework, be playful, play peek-a-boo, make funny faces, and tell knock-knock jokes.

Ask your grandkids to sing and read to you, and tell you jokes and stories. Have them show you their drawings, crafts, homework, new clothes, acrobatics and somersaults.

Options for free video chat software

Macally WebcamYou’ll need a computer, a webcam with a built-in or separate mic, and a broadband Internet connection. Different programs use their own protocols, so you and your family will need to use the same software. Each of the following programs allow you to make video calls worldwide.

iChat from Apple is an application that comes free with every Macintosh. If you have a Mac, iChat is the best software for video chatting. You can even have a video conference with up to 3 other Macs at once. Since it uses the AIM protocol, iChat works well with AIM on other computers.

AIM is an application you can download to your computer. It uses the same protocol as iChat.

Skype is another popular program for making video calls. Download the program and sign up for a free account. Computer-to-computer calls and video calls are free.

Google voice and video chat is integrated into gmail in your web browser. It’s a great option if you and your family have gmail accounts. Anyone can sign up for a free gmail account.

How to get started

  1. Choose an application and install it. (Consider what your family may be using.)
  2. Launch the program.
  3. Create a screen name and password (first time only).
  4. Share your screen name with your family.
  5. Arrange a time to call.
  6. Turn on your webcam.
  7. Log in to your chat program.
  8. Initiate the video call by clicking the appropriate buttons, or click “Accept” if your family initiates the call.
  9. Click the video icon by their name to see their video. (Note: Some programs make you click a button to allow them to see your video.)
  10. Enjoy!

Videophones are another option for video conferencing. These are special phones with an LCD screen. No computer is needed, but they need a high-speed Internet connection. You and your family both need the same brand of videophone.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then live video is worth ten 10,000 words. ~Grandpa Shayne Packer

We know you’ll love video chatting with your grandkids! So go try it.

Enjoy – Grandpa Shayne

Announcement: This post is part of a blog carnival hosted by Susan Adcox,’s Guide to Grandparents.

We’d like to hear from you. Please comment below to tell us about your videochat. What fun things did you do on the call with your grandkids.

If you like this post, please share it here…

Filed under Connecting, Cool Technology, Grandchildren, Grandparenting, Internet, Video Tutorials by

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Comments on How to Video Chat with Your Grandkids

January 2, 2010

Grandpa Shayne @ 8:43 pm

Other fun things my wife and I do: We love to read storybooks to our grandchildren. Sometimes, My wife reads while I hold the book up to the camera so they can see the illustrations. One year, we had a New Year’s Eve dance party with our grandchildren on the other side of the country. We played games like “I spy with my little eye”.

May @ 10:06 pm

I appreciate you showing me how to do a video chat. I’ve been wanting to for a long time. Nice post! Thanks.

January 6, 2010

Miss Nanny @ 4:52 am

This post is great! I think you are putting a lot of hard work on your blog. I’m sure I’d come back here more often.

January 8, 2010

Grandpa Shayne @ 1:35 pm

Any of the applications I mention in my article should work for video chatting. If one doesn’t work well for you, it’s good to try another one to see which works best for your situation.

Sometimes during a video call, there may be a “delay” in the audio where you seem to be “talking over” each other. This delay could be caused:
– If one or both computers are old. (Maybe it’s time to upgrade to a Mac.)
– If you have several applications running. Try restarting both computers and only launching the video chat application.
– Sometimes your Internet provider routes the connection through too many hubs/cities. There’s not much you can do about this, maybe try restarting both computers in the hope to get a shorter connection.

Grandpa Shayne @ 1:38 pm

There is another version of this article in my Cyber-Savvy GRAND column at

February 6, 2010

Dorothy Stahlnecker @ 1:37 pm

My first visit thanks for visiting us at grammology, when my grandson was in Iraq (two tours) he was a marine..we chatted almost weekly..and I loved it and so did he..and then we’d add my daughter his mom and it really got to be fun.

Nice of luck..

Dorothy from grammology

April 26, 2010

Brian @ 7:29 am

Any recommendations for the easiest and best webcam to get. Something that so simple it can not be messed up?

May 22, 2010

Walker @ 7:48 am

I love this post. My 4 year old granddaughter has started taking her mom’s phone and calling me. I think the idea of skyping with them would be great. We only live a few hours away but visiting isn’t always that easy.
I’m going to suggest this to my son and daughter-in-law.

I like the fact that you’re offering such detailed help for those of us who might be tech-challenged!

July 20, 2010

Maxi Malone @ 5:54 am

When my daughter and son-in-law moved to W. Virginia a few years ago the first thing I did was buy two web cams … sent one to them.

They are back now, but we never lost sight of each other. Sorry for the pun.

All the best – Maxi

What fun activities for grandparents and their grandchildren! And definitely great ideas for grandparents to stay in touch and close to grandchildren when living far away! I have to confess, as good as I am at other techie stuff, including fun Webkinz stuffed and virtual animals, I do struggle with this, as does my long distance family. So I am really appreciative you linked up with us at SandwichINK for the Boomers and Seniors: News You Can Use blog carnival. This is a great resource article I can refer my readers to if they have questions! :)

August 30, 2010

Philippines @ 3:11 am

It’s weird how quite a few folks still don’t know about this! Thank goodness for spreading the word on this!

September 3, 2010

Debs @ 7:13 pm

Oh Shayne that is one awesome video you shared there!! Your grandchildren are just so cute!! :)
I am so looking forward to so much I can do with my first grandchild I get dizzy just thinking about it!
Thanks for leading me to your blog, it is just great!! :)


September 7, 2010

Susan Adcox @ 10:25 pm

Thanks for this informative article. I haven’t needed video chats as my grandchildren have always been within an hour’s drive. But now my granddaughter is away at college, and we Skyped her over the weekend.

October 18, 2010

James Clifford @ 5:57 am

Perfect and awesome ideas for parents. Will try to use them right now and will report about my experience a little bit later.

October 20, 2010

Cynthia @ 9:24 pm

Shayne, this is a great blog… your grandkids are very sweet! I particularly loved the storytelling and hope to try that out myself! Thanks!

November 10, 2010

Howland @ 4:22 am

I just got a new iPhone 4 that has the FaceTime feature. I can have a video call with anyone else with an iPhone 4. Even more exciting is that Apple has created a FaceTime application for Macintosh, and since my daughter has a Mac, now I have video calls with my grandkids from my iPhone! I love it!

November 27, 2010

Richard Conner @ 4:40 pm

Shayne, loved the video phone story. A lot of folks may not realize a video phone can replace their house phone. Especially if they are paying more than $50 per month. They can actually save money and experience all the joys you talked about.

December 22, 2010

digital dave @ 11:38 am

Great article. We keep in touch with our grandchildren on Skype. We can also communicate with friends on the other side of the world. Amazing.

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