Tips for Video Chatting with Young Children
To keep your family and friends connected, video chatting with apps such as FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, and WhatsApp can be a wonderful virtual experience. Video Chats can help children build relationships, communicate and learn from loved ones on the screen at times when they are unable to see them in person.
To Support Children with their Video Chats:
- Choose a good time of day. Using video chat means children have to sit quietly at times and focus on the screen. Don’t set up for disappointment by picking a time when they are hungry or restless
- Before your call prepare to have engaging materials at your side (storybooks, musical instruments, puppets, toys, artwork or photos) to create positive interactions
- Get creative – encourage engagement by using cooking, baking, games and toys
- Get musical – sing a song with hand movements, play or shake instruments or have a dance party to keep the children’s attention
- Plan in advance, and pretend to share snacks. People on both sides of the screen have the same snack and the adults can even pretend to hand it off (camera to camera) to a child’s delight
- If using a tablet or laptop so you can both move around to show different views and different activities
Tips for Chatting with Infants and Toddlers:
- Keep very young children engaged with you by playing games such as ‘peek a boo’ – turn the camera away from you, then back to your face, and then sometimes when the camera comes back you can surprise the kids by showing a book, or toy, or something else that you want to talk about
- Make sure to use the same greeting each time and in the same tone of voice when chatting with infants and toddlers. Infants and toddlers learn to recognize and feel comfortable with a real person on the screen when they hear that same sound each time they see the person. This is important because they often depend more on smell and touch when meeting a person, so they need more visual and sound cues to recognize you on video chat
- Use a lot of gestures. Be close to the camera, but not so close that your video partner can’t see your hands
Video chatting doesn’t have to be a major event. A quick, spontaneous chat can be a fun way for distant grownups and children to feel close to each other. And don’t forget to lean in for a high five or a “kiss” to say hello or goodbye!