Video Chat with Grandchildren

With recent research suggesting watching infant videos can interfere with a baby or toddler’s language development, one has to examine other options for “screen” entertainment.

Yes, that is me with my mouth wide open on the computer screen saying hi to my grandchildren through a video chat. What’s the difference? There is a big difference in that talking through the computer provides an opportunity for two-way conversation. Today, I showed them shark figures as they asked questions and told me what sharks they had, read them The Pout Pout Fish, and Will finished the lines of the refrain and and asked for specific pages, showed him a harp seal and talked about the baby one who was stranded on our Long Island shore.

An interesting story appeared in the New York Times Magazine today called, “The Overextended Family, is Skype bringing us together or destroying boundaries?” Sadly, the premise of the article is that a grandmother wanted to Skype with her grandchild and mom was worried about if it would be intrusive on her life. When they finally tried it, they admitted, “I don’t have anything to say.” I would say, try again to that grandma. Here are a few suggestions.

Try visits with children or grandchildren while you are apart and make it interactive.

  • Ask open-ended questions like “What do you like?” or “What do you play with?” rather than “What did you do today?” which is often hard for a child to answer.
  • Read a book and hold the pictures up close to the camera so the child can follow. As they get to know the text, leave off the ending of a sentence and let them join in.
  • For younger children have a few toys to share and talk about.
  • For an older child, share an interesting story form a magazine or newspaper about what you have experienced or seen in your town.
  • Get some children’s books from the library and read about the author’s or illustrator’s stories. These can be fascinating to kids.
  • Get out some puppets and talk back and forth to your child. Tell about what you did in your day and see if they might share something fun that they did.
  • Show a craft you are working on whether it is knitting or sewing

How do you communicate with your kids and grandchildren when you are apart?