A Guide to Video Chatting for Seniors
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you use them to make a purchase, we will earn a commission. We link to these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.
FaceTime, Zoom, Duo… did these words mean anything to you six months ago? Maybe, maybe not. As we’ve made efforts to socially distance and refrain from connecting with friends and family in person during the COVID-19 pandemic, video chatting for seniors is more popular than ever.
But keeping up with all the tech needed to digitally connect is daunting. Knowing what device to get and figuring out how to use it for video calls isn’t easy, so we’re here to help.
What do I need to know about video chatting for seniors?
There are several different types of devices you can use for video chatting for seniors, it simply depends on what you already have, what you’re willing to buy and what you’re comfortable with. Here are a few options:
#1. Your smartphone
If you’re like 53 percent of seniors, you already have a smartphone. Your phone probably comes in handy for many things, and video chatting is especially easy on a smartphone.
Before downloading any apps to video chat, be sure your phone has a camera on the front so you can record your face while looking at the screen. This way, your loved ones will be able to see you, while you see them.
Since your smartphone is small and portable, you can video chat anywhere, anytime—even when you don’t have access to Wi-Fi. Video chatting works perfectly fine using your data signal, but do keep an eye on your monthly usage if your calling plan doesn’t include limited unlimited data.
#2. A tablet
With their larger screens, tablets are quite useful for video chatting. You may already have an iPad or another type of tablet you use for reading books, watching movies or completing other tasks. If you don’t have a tablet already, the Amazon Fire HD8 is a good choice.*
The Fire HD8 is on the small side for a tablet, so the device is portable, just slightly larger than some of the largest smartphones on the market. The price is affordable at $90, especially compared to similar tablets. And this tablet has a front camera, so you and the person you’re calling will be able to see each other.
#3. A webcam
If you’re not interested in using a smartphone or tablet to video chat, your best alternative is a webcam. This is a camera you attach to an existing computer or laptop with the sole purpose of video chatting.
The Amcrest webcam* has wonderful, 1080p video quality and uses a USB port compatible with most computers. This webcam is also an affordable option at $50.
How do I video chat?
There are several platforms you can use to video chat. Here’s what you need to know about the three most popular options: FaceTime, Zoom and Duo.
#1. How to use FaceTime
FaceTime is used exclusively on iPhones, iPads and Macs, so check with the person you want to video chat with to make sure they have access to an Apple product with video capability. FaceTime doesn’t work with Android phones, tablets or any kind of PCs.
Because FaceTime is built right into Apple products, using the app is simple and easy.
Step #1: Open your app library
Step #2: Tap the FaceTime icon.
Step #3: When FaceTime opens, you should be able to select one of your contacts to video call.
#2. How to use Zoom
Zoom is a little more complicated, but works well if you want to video chat with a large group of people—especially if everyone is using a different brand of device. There are no limitations on what devices are compatible with Zoom.
Step #1: Download Zoom to your device from the:
Step #2: Once downloaded, follow the prompts to set up an account, if you don’t have one already.
Step #3: Open the app, and tap or click “New Meeting” then “Start Meeting.”
Step #4: Tap or click “Participants” at the bottom.
Step #5: Then tap “Invite” at the bottom.
From there, you should be able to send a meeting link via text, email, Facebook Messenger and more to the people you want to join your meeting.
You may want to give invitees a heads-up you’ll be sending a meeting request. You can also use the app to schedule a video chat in advance so people can plan ahead.
#3. How to use Duo
Duo is a great option if you like Google products. This app is compatible with any type of device, so you don’t have the same limitations as FaceTime, and you can chat with multiple people like Zoom.
Step #1: Download Duo to your device from the:
Step #2: Open the app and log in using your Gmail credentials. If you don’t have a Gmail account setup, create a new one before proceeding.
Step #3: When you first open the app, your contacts should appear. Simply tap on the contact you wish to call, then tap “Video call.”
Learning video chatting for seniors might seem frustrating or overwhelming at first, but the payoff of connecting with family and friends regularly will be a great reward in the end. So if you run into problems, keep trying!
*Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you use them to make a purchase, we will earn a commission. We link to these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.
image credit: shutterstock/Monkey Business Images