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How to get the best out of kid’s video chats

So many kids are missing the get-togethers they were used to having with grandparents, family, and friends. This is difficult for everyone involved. For those who have friends or relatives that live away, using apps to keep in contact may be something you’ve mastered. For many, getting used to this new norm is a work in progress. While my kids can chat for hours to their mates, but their grandparents on and the conversation doesn’t flow like it would if they were physically together. With young children, distraction is always a problem and can leave Nan and Pop sat in front of an empty screen. Putting some structure into your kid’s video chats will definitely help and will make the process easier for everyone involved. 


Book a time in advance

This sounds very straightforward but it’s easy in our day-to-day lives to find half an hour spare and decide that’s the perfect time for the call. At the other end, the person you want to speak to has just started doing something. If you have a child or adult waiting to talk this might be a huge letdown. Book in a time beforehand when you know you’ll all be free and make sure you’re ready – devices in hand!


Plan the call content

If you have a young child, you’ll know that keeping them interested in what’s happening in a video call can often be a challenge. There’s nothing worse than having to make excuses as your child wanders off to find new things to do. Arrange for the person you’re calling to do an activity with your child. Maybe they could read a book? Play a game? Sing nursery rhymes or songs? Play peek a boo? Even put the music on and all have a dance?

Older kids

If your child is older, talk to them about what they’re going to chat about. Even my tween can stare at her grandma blankly unless she’s prepared. Maybe what they’ve done that week, what they’re working on, the books they are reading even show and tell their art or craft. It’s good to also remind them of the highlights from their week. You’ll find once you start talking about it they’ll start sharing other things you haven’t even thought of. 

They can bring props, show the award from distance learning, photos they’ve taken on their smartphone, the sky’s the limit. Whatever’s important to them will be important to the person talking to them.


Set expectations

Sometimes things don’t always go to plan. Your call may freeze or glitch. Explain what is happening to your child and that this will happen from time to time online. Explain to them sometimes you need to just be patient. With younger children, you can always turn this into a game. Call it musical statues until you’ve got it working again!

Agree on a length of time for your chat. The person your child is talking to might only have half an hour free. You may have a child whose attention will only be held for ten minutes. Whatever the reason, agree on a rough time so no one gets upset.


Make it a regular event

The more often you engage in video chatting with someone, the easier it gets. Make it an event you do regularly. Explain to your child that on Thursday after dinner, Granddad will be reading the bedtime story, or on a Wednesday lunchtime, Aunty Louise will join us for lunch. For an older child, you’ll just need to agree that on Tuesday’s we have a catch up with Uncle Tom. It might not always follow the plan but your child will get used to the regular meet up.


Don’t forget you!

It’s important not to forget yourself in all of this. As an adult, you too can meet up with family and friends. Find a purpose – you might start a book club, enjoy a morning coffee, or a Friday night wine. Whatever works for you, your friends and family.

Group chats work really well too. They’re a great opportunity to catch up with several people all at the same time. I was having a group chat the other night in my garden while we had a backyard fire and BBQ. It made the evening so much better as I felt like I had my friends over with us. And the best bit? I didn’t spend hours in the kitchen cooking or have any additional washing up! 


A quick look at apps for kid’s video chats

There are loads of apps popping up targeted at kids, however, do your research before you download. Here’s 3 you might have heard of and our thoughts as parents.



This platform is designed specifically for video conferencing. It’s perfect for hosting and recording meetings but we’re not a fan of it for kids chat. Zoom has introduced a variety of virtual background options, targeted at kids including Disney and Pixar, however, it hasn’t convinced us. I’ve read quite a lot about privacy issues with Zoom so it’s not one I’d recommend for kids to hook up. Zoom, however, is an awesome platform for online school classrooms (Zoom has adjusted its default setting for educational accounts) and larger groups or family catch-ups where adults are present. 


Google Hangouts

We don’t mind this app, and it’s easy for the kids to use considering a lot of them are already familiar with Google Classroom. You do need to adjust the privacy settings so strangers can’t send friend requests. It doesn’t have any really good creative tools, they do have a few basic things but nothing our kids found engaging. It’s basically video and messaging. We have found it can be quite glitchy at times but definitely worth the look.


Facebook Messenger Kids

So far so good and we love how everything is approved by us before kids can connect with anyone new. Messenger Kids has no ads or in-app purchases available but the kids do have some really cool creative tools. I think the best thing about this app is the existing connection to the Messenger platform. You can instantly approve some of your contacts like uncles and aunties for the kids to connect with. For us, Messenger Kids is an easy option because we use it anyhow and now the kids can use it too.


Check out our Kids Section at Lake Mac Family Life, for more ideas and fun for kids.



{Accessed May 2020} https://techwiser.com/best-kid-friendly-video-chat-app/

{Accessed May 2020} https://messengerkids.com/

{Accessed May 2020} https://www.familyzone.com/anz/families/blog/zoom-how-safe-is-it-for-kids 

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