There are lots of reasons you might not be able to see friends and family during the holidays. Travel can be chaotic and stressful — not to mention expensive. Or, you might be splitting time with different sides of the family.
Thankfully, technology has made it easier to stay connected during the busy season even when you can’t physically be together. One way to do that is by video calling.
Here’s how to video chat with loved ones this holiday season.
How to video chat
There are several different ways to video chat, depending on the devices and apps you and your loved ones use. Here are just a few:
How to FaceTime
FaceTime is an iOS app for video chatting. The app is available on Apple devices, including phones, tablets, desktop computers and Apple TV. The FaceTime app comes pre-installed, so all you need to do is find the app, open it up and place a call to your chosen contact.
You can also answer incoming FaceTime calls, much in the same way as answering a normal phone call.
How to video call on Android
Android video calls can’t happen over FaceTime, but there are other ways to video chat with loved ones regardless of the device they’re using. There are a few Android video chat apps you can download:
How to video chat on Facebook
Facebook also offers video chatting in its platform, for phones and computers alike (you need to have a webcam, though). The social media network even has its own video chat device, Facebook Portal TV, which can host video chats and stream video.
To video chat on Facebook, go to Facebook Messenger and start a conversation with the person you want to call. There will be a video camera icon within the message. Click on that to launch the chat.
How to video call on Skype
Skype is a video chat app that’s available both on computers and mobile devices. The app is free, or you can upgrade for paid features. To video chat with loved ones during the holidays, the free version will suffice.
After installing the program on your device, you’ll need to sign up for a free account with your email. As part of this process, you will need to sign up with a Skype ID, or username. You’ll then need to provide that ID to the person(s) you want to call, or ask them for theirs, so you can add one another as contacts and place calls.
How to video chat with Google Hangouts
Like Skype, Google Hangouts is also available via computer or mobile device. You’ll need to get a Google account if you don’t already have one to use the product. On a computer, go to your Gchat window or to hangouts.google.com to access your Hangouts dashboard.
From there, you can add and manage contacts and place video calls via the video camera icon. You can also add multiple people to your calls.
Tips for video chatting
Regardless of the method you use to video chat during the holidays, there are some universal tips to keep in mind:
- You need internet speeds that can handle a smooth, clear connection. Video chatting requires a lot more bandwidth than basic web browsing or emailing.
- Ensure your devices are compatible with the app. Sometimes, you’ll need to upgrade your software or phone to be able to use the latest version of the video chat tools.
- Invest in a good webcam. If you’re using an older phone or tablet, and your computer doesn’t have a decent webcam built in, you can find some affordable options at your local tech store or online.
- Get as much natural lighting as possible. Avoid sitting directly in front of a bright window. Instead, position yourself so the light is shining on your face. No natural lighting? Find a well-lit room.
- Reduce background noise as much as possible. As tempting as it may be to pass the phone around and get everyone on the call, it’s dizzying for the person on the other end. Find a quiet room where people can take turns if they want to say hello.
Now that you know how to video chat, be sure not to bury your head in your phone during the holidays but use it to reach out and connect. To find other ways that tech can enhance the season, bookmark our Resource Center or stay connected with our experts on Facebook and Twitter.