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Grandma waves from the smartphone – video telephony in the family

2 minutes reading time
0-17 years
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Copyright: Ute Grabowsky/photothek.net

It’s not uncommon for families to not always be in the same place: Dad lives in another city, the grandparents even in another country and the favorite aunt is traveling a lot. Thanks to digital media and the Internet, you can still exchange ideas and “see” each other regularly.

Video telephony briefly explained

For video telephony, you need an Internet-enabled device with a fast Internet connection. In order not to use up its data volume quickly, it is best to use WLAN. Otherwise, this can also degrade the image quality. Also, your respective device should have a microphone and a camera integrated. And then you’re ready to go!

You either “talk on the phone” via the same app that you use to write messages to each other, i.e. a messenger. Also online applications like Skype are also suitable for video telephony. Everyone uses the same tool when talking. You can use WhatsApp not call grandma and grandpa on FaceTime.

With some providers, several people can take part in the conversation.  Group video chats are available on WhatsApp (up to four people) and Facebook Messenger (up to 50 people). The screen is then split into three halves, for example, when you are on the phone together with your child, grandparents far away and uncle on the road. With tablet, laptop and smartphone in hand, the uncle can even show where he is.

The advantages for families at a glance

Talking on the phone while seeing each other via the camera allows for a closer exchange between family members than “just” talking on the phone. Grandparents who live far away and are rarely seen still get to see their grandchildren grow up and have regular contact. If your child is growing up with separated parents, he or she may feel more closely connected to the other parent during a Mommy Week. The video function means you’re much closer to each other’s everyday lives. Other things can be done on the side, so the conversation has a casual setting. Video telephony is very similar to a “real” conversation. Through facial expressions and gestures, you can better understand each other and your child even without words. This is also helpful when a family member has language handicaps.

What you should pay attention to

Find out from what age the respective app may be used if your child “talks on the phone” with grandma or the godfather without your presence. WhatsApp is actually only allowed from the age of 16, but with the consent of parents even earlier. Viber and the Skype app are suitable for ages 12 and up, according to the USK.

Look together which features of the app are free. Be aware that by using the app you grant some permissions to the provider. Research which ones you may be able to hire or ban yourself. To protect privacy, there is an option for your child to contact only saved people. Look for a provider with secure end-to-end encryption to keep you and your family’s data safe.

Talk to your child about the potential dangers of video calling. With (unknown) acquaintances made via Instagram or Snapchat, young people like to “Skype” to get to know each other better. This promotes the risk of cybergrooming, since you don’t know exactly who is behind it.

Thus, video telephony is a practical help for everyday life, making contact with friends and family possible when you are not in the same place.

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