Keeping in touch with video calls – fun if set up right!
Keeping in touch with one’s friends is crucial, for young and old. Video calling is an amazing tool to do just that, and a good and safe set up is easily done.
Kids are different in their ways to socialise and as much as it can be fun to have a ‘live video competition’ of who builds the highest tower of blocks, it can also be a somewhat awkward experience talking to once friends via some electronic device. So how to go about it to make sure your kid feels comfortable? As with all electronic devices, inform yourself beforehand, set the boundaries and explain things to your kid.
Participant numbers – keep it small. Particularly if the medium is new to your kid. Invite the closest friends – after choosing them together – as this might reduce potential social inhibitions. You can always extend the call to more participants next time round.
Choose an introduction – it only requires one parent in the video call to start the call with a brief activity to set the scene. Ask your child whether there is something particular of interest to all. Or if you know the other kids better, why not come up with a couple of suggestions! For example, drawing something together is easily prepared and allows kids to be creative while chatting. That allows for everyone to settle and is a smooth transition into other activities they want to do. Another rewarding experience is to share one’s newest favourite book, film or toy. There is nothing better than listening to a summary of a good book followed by some intriguing questions.
Set a timeline – align this with the other parents and communicate it to your kid. Choosing the right time of the day is essential. No one wants to be hungry or in an uncomfortable environment halfway through a video call. Also setting a timeline allows your kid to prepare emotionally if the time is up and prevents overtiring or overstimulation. If the video call is successful you can still extend the time.
Regular checking in – the younger your kid the more important. Key is to remember that video calling, and the same applies to adults, can be socially very exhausting and regular checks how your kid is doing, are elementary. From The Rabbit’s experience, the age of 8 years onwards is a good age for starting with parental guided video calls – as in using your account, agreeing on participants and inviting them yourself and under initial and overall parental guidance. Ultimately, it is really up to you as a parent to understand how your kid deals with this new way of communication and to ensure that the comfort zone is given.
Electronic device – choose the right one. Stationary? Mobile? What happens if your device falls on the floor? Is a solid connection guaranteed in all rooms? Do you want your kid to roam around in all rooms? Best to review which gadget is available first and then explain to your kid. Being stationary and properly set up on a table which offers lots of space to play on, gives a fixed point of reference and your kid can concentrate on the activities. Then again a more mobile device allows your kid to show exciting things to his/her friends but you do run the risk of dropping the gadget or losing the call connection.
Video call providers with sufficient parental controls – there are plenty of free of charge providers for private video calls with easy to set up parental controls. Go with the one you know how to operate, so to avoid potential technical mishaps, which can lead to frustration in your young participants. Ideally choose one most parents are familiar with and if in doubt do a test before the call.
The Rabbit wishes an exciting and fun video call and yes crashing down towers of wooden blocks live in a video call can be just as much fun as building something together!