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As the COVID-19 pandemic keeps most older adults sheltering in place to stay safe, video chat platforms have become a popular way of communicating. Grandparents are reading bedtime stories to grandchildren even though they live across town. Schools and universities are utilizing programs like Zoom to teach. Insurance companies and health professionals are promoting virtual visits as a safe way to monitor a patient’s well-being.
While the platforms themselves might be easy to master, feeling comfortable about how you look “on camera” might be a little tougher. Unlike younger generations who have grown up taking selfies and using videos to communicate with friends on a daily basis, older adults might struggle with lighting or device placement.
That’s why we pulled together a few tips to make you more confident using video chat services.
Tips for Communicating Via Video Chat
1. Buy a webcam: Depending on who you are visiting with virtually, it might be best to invest in a webcam for your laptop. It’s not always as convenient as chatting from your iPad or phone, but the quality of the camera is usually better. This is especially true if you do a lot of virtual physician appointments.
2. Camera placement: In most cases, having the camera at eye level is most flattering. Place your laptop on a stack of books on a table in front of you or your device on an adjustable, cell phone stand. This allows you to get your camera in the right location. Avoid having to look down toward the camera as that is usually an unflattering angle for most people.
3. Good lighting: Having the right light is important for video calls. Shadows falling on the screen during your video chat can make you look tired or worried. Also, having a lamp directly behind you can make it difficult to see your features. In general, it’s best to sit facing a window or placing a light directly behind your laptop or device. You could also consider purchasing an inexpensive selfie light that hooks on the top of your laptop or device during calls.
4. Check the background: Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a number of embarrassing video chat experiences have made the rounds. Many involve what’s behind the person on the call. If you will be utilizing Zoom or another chat platform often, it might be a good idea to set up a spot in your home and use it to call from each time. Sign into the service to see what the background looks like and make any necessary adjustments.
One final tip if you are having trouble staying connected is to skip using WIFI and plug into your internet connection instead. Home networks aren’t always able to support video chat without interruptions.
Connect with the Grandchildren
If you are a grandparent looking for ways to stay in touch with the younger generation in your family, we have some suggestions. Ideas for Connecting with the Grandkids Virtually shares ways to build bonds when you can’t be there in person.