Get Face Time With Your Grandchildren

Updated October 30, 2023


Here’s How to Stay Connected with Your Kids and Family

Here’s some easy ways to make video calls so you can stay in touch with your grandchildren and kids. Now more than ever, keeping that connection is so important, isn’t it!

When travel isn’t an easy option, seeing our loved ones is the next best thing to being there. Video chatting isn’t too hard to set up and use. Get the kids to help if you aren’t naturally techie.

When little ones are growing up and changing so quickly, you don’t want to miss out. Whether you’re on the other side of town or the world, keep the connection with loved ones strong. Kids are more likely to remember you when they can “see” you. Turns out facial recognition counts for a lot. Reason enough!

Thankfully technology gives us lots of options to stay connected. Here’s some easy ways to get that face time you want with kids and grandkids.

How Can I Make Video Calls

By iPhone/iPad:

facetime with grandchildrenFacetime is an app only available on Apple devices.  You won’t be able to use it without an iPhone. Whoever you want to call also needs to have an iPhone. Facetime is one of the easiest ways to video chat.

To start on your iPhone go to Settings > Facetime > Turn button on to green. To start a video call go to Contacts or Recents on your phone . pick your kids number and select the Facetime icon on the screen. When the call is connected, your kids will be able to see you on their screen. Goes without saying, they’ll need to make sure Facetime is enabled on their phone too. If it isn’t the Facetime icon on their contact screen will be grayed out.
Facetime is designed to be used on Wifi, so use it to make or receive calls on your iPad too.

No Wifi? Use your cell service, but be aware of your data limits. A Facetime chat costs as much as a voice call, something to be aware of if you’re calling an international number.
Free: (requires Wifi/Internet or cell plan)
Ease of use: Very easy!

By Computer + Android/iPhone/Tablet/iPad (with app)

face time with grandchildrenGoogle Hangouts. Here’s how to make video calls on Android phones. There’s no built in application to video chat on Android phones (Samsung, LG, Blackberry or Nokia). The alternative is to use the Google Hangouts app, which allows you to real time chat, send pictures and messages to anyone whether they’re using iPhone or Android.

Start by downloading and installing the Hangouts app on your phone. Hangouts will also work on your desktop computer. Using Google Chrome browser is easiest, but it’s also available in Safari on IExplorer. Make sure the grandkids also have Hangouts installed, either on a phone, a tablet or computer.

With Hangouts you’ll be able to have live face to face calls with up to 10 kids at one time; video conferencing at it’s best!
Free (requires Wifi/Internet)
Ease of use: Some setup required. Get a friend to help or guide you the first time.

By Computer + Android/iPhone/Tablet/iPad (with app)

face time with grandchildrenSkype was acquired by Microsoft to replace Windows Live Messenger and is compatible with Android phones. With an Android phone you can access your address book through the app. Skype allows unlimited one on one video chats whether on your phone or through your desktop computer. Group chats are included.

How to make video calls from Skype. You and your kids need to sign up get a Skype number for free Skype to Skype calls. Give your number a name. I chose Tessamom as my Skype name. Keep a contact list of all the kids and grandkids to make calling a breeze.

Download the Skype app to use on your phone, tablet or desktop. On desktop computer log into your Skype account on Skype’s site. Don’t forget to turn the sound on!
Free (requires Wifi/Internet. Skype to Skype calls are free. Purchase additional minutes for other calls such as to a landline or mobile phone)
Ease of use: Some setup required. Get a friend to help or guide you the first time.

By Phone Android or iPhone

face time with grandchildrenWhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion. WhatsApp is an app you download and install on your phone to make free calls, including video chats anywhere in the world. Use it just like you use your phone.

I call or text friends and family in the UK to avoid expensive voice calls from my US cell phone. Use WhatsApp to make calls, send pictures or texts.  Because it’s owned by Facebook, your Facebook contacts will be instantly available to add to your WhatsApp contacts. You can also create a new contact by manually entering any mobile number you want to call.

Just as with other apps, the person you call also needs to have Whatsapp installed. Start a call by going to the app (or on an iPhone look up a contact then choose Whatsapp to use). When you’ve found the person you want to call, hit the telephone symbol. Answer a call by tapping the green button, disconnect a call by hitting the red X.

Make sure you have Whatsapp enabled in your Settings to use Cellular Data if you want to be able to answer calls anywhere. The best reception however will be on Wifi. I usually only call when I’m at home on my own Wifi network. Be aware also, that Whatsapp uses a lot of data, so unless you have an unlimited plan, you may want to only use it while you’re on Wifi.
Free: (requires Wifi/Internet or cell data plan)
Ease of use: Once you download the app it’s relatively easy to setup and use.

Facebook Portal

Facebook Portal is running some very appealing ads lately and you may be thinking, wow that looks like the perfect way to keep in touch with family and friends! When we’re all trying to socially distance, at least for the time being, any device that offers a better way to connect is worth looking into and at $179. the price seems reasonable.

I decided to do some research on the Portal. If you already have a Facebook or Whatsapp account those existing contacts can be used to set up Portal. Portal works with Alexa and Spotify too.  “Hey Portal” works like “Alexa, get me…” to run basic controls.

Portal comes with apps you can download for news, browsing and playing music.

Although the Portal device is a solid piece of video chat technology and does what it says, what I’ve read means I wouldn’t recommend it. Even with recent privacy controls like a toggle to turn off the camera and microphone, Facebook gets too much access to your data to make it a safe choice in the home. Facebook records and keeps “Hey Portal” transcripts for up to 3 years although they say Facebook doesn’t store or listen to transcripts. BUT the privacy of user data can be compromised and not just at Facebook.

It’s up to you, but if you decide to try Facebook Portal, be aware of available privacy controls and use them.

Cost: $179. – no monthly service needed, but requires Wifi/Internet 
Ease of use: You may need to get help for initial setup but use is relatively straightforward. You’ll need a Facebook account.

How to Make Video Calls Cheaper

Most of these apps or services can be used for free but you’ll still need a way to connect.

  • Phone or tablet  – you’ll need a cell service plan through your cellphone provider and or an internet plan with Wifi.
  • Laptop or computer – you’ll need an internet plan with Wifi

I suggest making calls on WhatsApp while you’re on free Wifi whenever possible as this app soaks up data like a sponge and you could easily go over your monthly cell data plan limit.

When you use Facetime on your phone in your own country, it’s the same as making a regular call. Be aware of any data or cell service limits you have. Facetime can be used on your iPad too if your tablet comes with a data plan.  Unless that data plan is  unlimited, restrict using Facetime to when you have access to free Wifi or internet.

I found out that T-Mobile has a great deal if you’re over 60. Unlimited data and minutes too. Now’s the time to check and make sure you’re getting the best deal from your cell phone and internet provider. If you’re a Costco member, start there. That’s how I found out about the T Mobile plan. Costco is a great place to pick up good deals on phones, tablets and computers too.

Don’t miss out on getting that face time with the grandchildren or kids. Try one of these great video chat apps or services and start connecting! If you have any questions I’d love to answer them. Just leave a comment below!



About Author

With over 30 years in a creative role in advertising and publishing, and a lifetime of journeys between the US and UK, I've created Hipoverfifty for you. I hope my journey and perspective will guide you on yours.