Video Chatting for Beginners

So you’re practicing social distancing, but you still want to see your loved ones’ faces? Now’s the perfect time to try video chatting. All you need is a smartphone, tablet, or computer with a webcam to get started.

Many different apps provide free video chatting. Check with the other person to compare the apps you already have and decide on one:

  • If you both have an iPhones, FaceTime is an easy pick.
  • If you both use Facebook, use their built-in video chat feature in both the web browser or the Messenger app.
  • Or download a new app for video calls: Skype, Google Duo, Google Hangouts, and WhatsApp are all free and widely used. If you add something new, take the time to set up your new account before it’s time for the call.

video chat icon and sample screenshot How will you find the person you’re calling? It depends on the app. If they’re already in your phone’s contacts, FaceTime and Google Duo should work seamlessly. If you’re already friends on Facebook, you can search their name easily. If you used your phone number for setting up Skype or WhatsApp, that’s how the other person can find you. If it’s not obvious, call or text the other person! Or, if you get stuck, feel free to Ask Us — we’re answering questions Monday-Friday 10am-5pm during the closure.

Starting the call: You’ll probably get a notification on your device when the other person calls you, depending how you’ve set up the app. If not, open up the app and either wait for them to call or initiate the call yourself. The basic steps for starting a video chat in any app are 1) open the app, 2) navigate to the person you want to contact, and 3) look for an icon like a video camera.

Before you settle in for the call, consider your data. If you’re not connected to wifi or on a wired computer, a video call might eat up a lot of MB.

Read more about the pros and cons of these apps and more by searching online for articles on “video chat apps” such as this article from CNET.

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