5 Ways to Connect with Your Grandkids Using Technology

Are you a Grandparent searching for ways to connect with your tech savvy grandkids? Are you separated from your family members by hundreds of miles? Do these challenges keep you from engaging with your relatives? There’s no need to despair with this technology we’re going to share right here.

Virtual visits are a fun, easy way to reach out to your loved ones no matter where in the world you are. We’re going to share step-by-step instructions on how to use the most popular technology for face-to-face video calls.

The first step to any online connections is the need for Wi-Fi and a smartphone or a computer or tablet with a camera and a microphone. Once you have access to the right equipment, you can choose how you’d like to reach out virtually. Here are five of our favorite ways to connect over the internet.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts referred to simply as Hangouts, is a communication platform developed by Google that includes messaging and video chat, and can be accessed on a computer, tablet or smartphone.

  • To access Hangouts from your computer, log on to Google.com.
  • In the far right, top corner, you’ll see a small grid. Click on the grid.
  • Scroll down to find the Hangouts option. It looks like one green quote bubble with white quote marks inside.
  • Click on hangouts.
  • Click on Video Call to start a virtual visit.
  • The easiest way we’ve found to use Google Hangouts is to click on the “COPY LINK TO SHARE”. Then open an email, text or chat message and paste the link to send to your loved ones.
  • Open a web browser and paste the link to open the video call and instruct your recipients to do the same on the same day and time.
  • This opens your video chat window. Click on “Join Hangout” to begin the video call.

“The good news, if your email account is Gmail, then you already have a Google account. Go to Google.com and sign in to have access to all of Google’s apps,” says Melissa Cortez, Watermark IT Support, Watermark Retirement Communities.

WhatsApp Messenger

WhatsApp Messenger is a freeware messaging app that allows you to send text and voice messages, make voice and video calls and share images, documents and other media from a computer, tablet or smartphone.

  • Download the app and find the icon that looks like a green thought bubble with a traditional phone receiver in the middle.
  • Open the App.
  • Click on the green circle with the text box in the lower right hand corner of the screen.
  • Contacts that are already in your smartphone who have WhatsApp will appear below the New group and New contact icons.
  • If your family member is in this list, simply click on the name to open the contact.
  • To start a video call, click on the video icon in the upper right hand corner.
  • This will dial the contact. If they answer, you will be connected and see their face!

You can make a group of family members if you’d like to host group video calls.

  • Click on New group, select the family members you want in the group.
  • Name the group.
  • Now the group will show up as one contact in your app. Whenever you want to call the group, simply click on that group and choose the video icon.
Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger is a messaging app developed by Facebook and is commonly referred to as Messenger. You can use this on a computer, tablet or smartphone through a Facebook account or you can download the stand alone Messenger app.

  • If you’re using a Facebook social media account, go to your page and click on the Messenger icon in the upper right hand corner. It’s the dark quote bubble with a lightning bolt in the middle. If you’re using the app, open the app.
  • Find your family member.
  • Click on New Message to open the chat box.
  • Click on the video icon in the upper right had corner of the chat box.
  • Enable Facebook to access your microphone and camera.
  • The video call will start. If they answer, you’ll see the face of your loved one in the chat box!
  • If they do not answer, they will be notified you attempted a video call.

FaceTime is an Apple, Inc. app that can only be used on Apple equipment including Macintosh computers, iPhones and iPads. FaceTime will only work between Apple products, so your recipient has to have the same hardware.

  • Turn on FaceTime by opening the FaceTime App by clicking on the green square with the video camera icon or go to Settings and click on FaceTime.
  • Sign in with your Apple ID.
  • To make a FaceTime call, you need the person’s phone number or registered email address and follow these additional steps:
    • In the FaceTime app, click on the plus sign and type your family member’s phone number or email address. Click the number or address, then click on Video.
    • If you have the person’s phone number or email address saved in your Contacts, you can begin typing their name and click on the name when it appears, then click on Video.
    • You can also begin a FaceTime video call from your iPhone during a phone call. Click on the FaceTime icon in the Phone app to switch to FaceTime.

Snapchat is a messaging app that lets you easily talk with family and friends and is used by over 180 million people worldwide. If you want to go crazy with your video call, consider downloading this app on your smartphone or tablet. Not only can you video call your family members, you can do it with fun, crazy filters!

  • To make a video call from Snapchat, download the app and set up an account.
  • Click on Add Friends.
  • You’ll see “Quick Add”. This is a list of the people who are already in your smartphone with a Snapchat app account. Simply click on “Add” to add them to your contact list.
  • If you do not see your family member under Quick Add try these two ways to find them:
    • Search for their name to see if they pop up.
    • Ask them for their Snapchat name, that’s the name they choose when they set up the app and often is not their given name.
  • To initiate a video call, click on “Discover” at the top of the page and search for your family member.
  • Click on their account.
  • Click on the video icon in the upper right hand corner.
  • If they pick up, you’ll see their face and the video call begins!

If you’d like to use the fun filters to make your teeth really big, put bows on your head, turn yourself into an animal or any other number of filters you can. It’s fun and will surely make the grandkids and your grown kids laugh.

  • Click on the smiley face.
  • Choose the one you like.
  • You can change filters as often as you like during the video call.

These are just a few of the many ways you can connect with your loved ones using technology. You can discover more ways to connect online in a free Watermark University technology class at a Watermark Senior Living Community near you.

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