Video Chat for Two: 7 Ways to Enrich Your Video Chat Experience with an Older Relative

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

By Jackson Monroe,

Who decided that virtual birthday parties were a great idea? The concept is compelling, but there’s something unsatisfying about the way they turn out. People talk over each other, multiple conversations go on at once, and you can’t get a word in. Instead of all these overwhelming family meetings, why not connect in a smaller group? Engaging with an older relative one-on-one can be rewarding. Getting an older adult to join a video chat sounds challenging, but designed it's easy to use platform with your parents and grandparents in mind. Even with family, it can be awkward to start a conversation, so here are seven things to do or talk about to enrich your video chat experience.

Discover Some Family History

Your parents and grandparents are encyclopedias of your family’s culture. They may relish the opportunity to share your family’s history, divulge any famous (or infamous) familial ties, and share adventures, like how it used to be normal to hitchhike. It is interesting to understand where you came from and how your family’s story fits into the American dream. Learn your history from the great storytellers of the family.

Cook with the Pro

Family recipes move through time, passed down from generation to generation, and video chat is a great way to learn from the masters themselves. Set up the computer in the kitchen and watch for family cooking tips. Each person leaves their own spin on the recipe, joining the generations before them with each fold of the dough and pinch of salt. Experience a connection through food and cook for your older relatives next time, leaving your mark on the recipe for the next generation.

Relive Adventures Through Old Clothing

Old pairs of cowboy boots, varsity jackets, and clothing that’s much more expensive nowadays are passed down from parents and grandparents to keep their stories alive. When you wear your grandfather's jacket, you take him on your new adventure. Wear it when you see him over video chat and share those stories. See and hear the memories brought to life by your grandparents’ old wardrobe, try on a memory firsthand, and pass it on to another family member --- and share these experiences through video chat.

Learn a New Craft

A relative can teach you a skill, maybe painting or knitting, or you can teach them a hobby you’ve picked up during social distancing, even if it’s just Netflix. Alternate teaching every week or take an online class simultaneously so you can discuss. On platforms like YouTube and Khan Academy, there’s a class and video to learn every skill you can think of. Take free writing workshops to help swap and share the stories you created with each other. No one is ever too young or old to learn something new. Learn from each other, learn together.

Share a Book

Read together, switching chapters, or read separately and discuss the crazy twist at the end of chapter eleven. Relatives can use video chat to read a bedtime story to young kids in the family. Reading a book will always give you something to talk about, to listen to, and to feel like family is with you. Reading a book together acts like a siren, creating a mesmerizing voice that can take you away, transport you to the same living room.

Ask to See a Photo Album

Embarrassing or adventurous pictures are instantly connected to a story and memory. Everything including old pictures of your grandparents traveling before wrinkles and family photos when your dad is your age lead to tons of stories about how you are just like them. You can even try to find a resemblance in the young faces. Make sure you share your own pictures of your friends, the last vacation you had, or childhood photos, catching them up on your life as you grow older.

Practice a Language

Grandparents always seem to have a different language up their sleeves that they either learned a few words of when they were younger or spoke to their family in as a kid. Whatever it is, they would love to teach and speak it with you. Sites like DuoLingo make it easy to learn the basics of a language, and you can continue that learning in conversations with your relatives. Speaking in a different language with someone will help both of you to learn and remember the past.

Video chat can be used for much more than just the run of the mill conversation or overcrowded chat room. Spend some time with your parents and grandparents on video chat instead of doing large, virtual family gatherings. They want to see and talk to you, so start the conversation first. Let video chat flood your room with memories.
 is a startup video chat company that, through an NIH-funded study, enhanced its design for older adult users and proved the platform’s potential to improve health and quality of life outcomes by increasing opportunities for social engagement.