Skype, FaceTime, Zoom or WhatsApp video: 3 tips for grandparents

Now we can’t easily visit our families physically we can instead use technology to do virtual visits. Here are three tips for grandparents who might not be fully up to speed with Skype, FaceTime, Zoom or WhatsApp video.

These tips are all about what the person you are talking to will see when you connect with them. When in a conversation you can see what you look like using the small window within your screen. This can be difficult to focus on, ask the person you are talking to describe what they can see.

So what can you do to make conversation more effective?

Tip 1. Avoid bright light behind you.

The camera in your phone, tablet or laptop will adjust according to the amount of light it is receiving. If there is a strong light behind you, perhaps a window or a bright lamp, then the camera will adjust to the light and your face will appear to be in the dark. This can easily be fixed by rearranging where you are sitting to avoid light behind you.

Tip 2. Avoid the up-your-nose shot

Commonly people will place a phone or tablet directly in front of themselves on a lowish surface. This is ideal for viewing the person at the other end of the link but it means the camera is providing a rather unfortunate image, right up your nose! The solution to this problem is to move the device back, preferably on a surface which is not too low, so that you are looking more horizontally at the camera.

This sort of distance works for me.


Tip 3. Use both cameras

Don’t forget that phones and tablets have two cameras. The one that provides the image of your face is a tiny pinhole next to the screen. The other camera is a more obvious lens on the back normally used for taking photos. By switching to this other camera you can show the person at the other end interesting stuff. For example, you might give them a virtual tour of the room that you are in. The button to switch between cameras probably looks a bit like this.


It is possible to do all sorts of creative things when you start moving the phone or tablet about. Also don’t limit yourself to just chatting. What about playing games or reading stories? Have fun. Your children and grandchildren will be impressed.



2 thoughts on “Skype, FaceTime, Zoom or WhatsApp video: 3 tips for grandparents

  1. Thanks for writing this. It’s true about showing things with your camera too. Why not try baking together? If you prop up your phone or laptop in your kitchen, you could show the grandchildren how to make fairy cakes. (Don’t tell them, but it’ll be educational so could help out their frazzled parents who are wondering how much more home schooling they can take!) Then you could have a little tea party later, seeing their sticky faces as they bite into the treats you showed them how to make. You can enjoy a view of their faces and of the ‘work’ you have been doing together.

    Just make sure the little picture of kitchen is angled so they can see your hands. To be fair, it’ll need a bit of prep from their parents too – they will have to position their own phone/laptop so you’ll be able to see what the children are doing. Also, they’ll need to clear a surface and getting the ingredients and scales out at least. And then they’ll also have to come with the kitchen mess after too. But that’s educational too …


  2. Pingback: IT with only one hand: Making the most of the advantages provided by a phone or a tablet | Gadgets for Seniors

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s