I don’t think my mother or mother-in-law would be delighted to have me refer to them as “elderly family members” but let’s let that one slide for the moment.
As the fears and concerns around Coronavirus grow, the most important people to be isolated and in quarantine are our most vulnerable, the sick, and the elderly.
The infection rate among the elderly may not be high, because they are rightly taking precautions, but the impact of the virus among that demographic could be fatal.
So we should all be encouraging our elderly family to stay in isolation. Help them with food and essential deliveries. But that creates a genuine isolation, and that’s really sad.
Sad that Grandparents can’t get visits from the grandkids, sad they can’t see their little smiles as they tell them stories about their day at school.
But that sadness can be turned around with technology.
We need to embrace video calling to create a social connection among those who are socially isolating.
For some it might seem scary, a whole new world of technology, an app they’ve never used before.
So, dust off your anti-bacterial wipes, wash your hands thoroughly, and grab Granny’s phone and install a video calling app.
Which App to use for Video Calling?
The key here is compatibility. If the kids have iPads, you’re going to need to use Facetime. If mum and dad have android phones and Granny has an iPhone, you need something that works across platforms.
Here are a few options to consider:
If you have all Apple devices, Facetime is most certainly the easiest solution. It works on Apple Laptops, iPads, iPods, iPhones and Mac Computers.
The great thing is, you can call multiple people and have a joint facetime call together!
If you’ve set up an Animoji, you can appear as your cartoon character or even animals. Fun!
My son Harri used Facetime today to have his OT qualified Granny help him with his writing practice, not the same as being there, but great to stay connected and talking.
WhatsApp is easily the most popular messaging app out there, and it allows you to chat, and share photos, but also make video calls.
It requires a device with a phone number, so it won’t work on a tablet, only on Smartphones – but any smartphone can call any other – so Samsung to Apple, Apple to Alcatel, whatever you want.
While most of us use Facebook Messenger for chatting, it can also be used for making video calls (That’s why Facebook asks for access to your camera and microphone, not so they can spy on you).
You need to be “Facebook Friends” with each other but once you are, simply find them on messenger and press the little video call icon!
My kids called Grandma tonight and used all sorts of silly filters to change their faces and make everyone laugh.
Old School or what? Skype is the OG of video calling today. Easy to use, installed on any device from computers to tablets and phones, you just need a skype account.
Free! All the apps are free, there’s no cost to making the call, but it will use a small amount of data. If you’re not on WiFi that will use your mobile data – but what price connectivity with family huh?
Technique and Etiquette
I think it’s wise to send a message in advance of a video call – make sure they’re decent at the other end and ready for the call.
When you’re on the call, consider the view of the other person. Don’t hold the device too low – they don’t want to see up your nose. Hold it high and out front. Sit it on a shelf if you need to.
And try to speak in a bit more of a back and forth manner, while the calls are very much full-duplex and interactive, it can be a touch confusing, so let them speak, and listen:)
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.