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How to Use Skype to Connect With Grandchildren

Plain Language Guide to Video Calling

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Grandparents who learn how to use Skype can have free video chats with grandchildren.

Grandparents who learn how to use Skype can have free video chats with grandchildren.

Photo © Gallo (Pty) Ltd. / Getty

I admit it. I was apprehensive about learning how to use Skype. I wanted to be able to video chat with my grandchildren, but I didn't know the jargon, and I felt in over my head. If you have felt the same way, here it is: Skype made easy, in everyday language.

What Is Skype, Anyway?

Skype is a service that allows you to communicate by text, voice and video over your computer. This article is about video calling. That means that you'll be able to see and hear those you call.

There are other services that work much as Skype does, but Skype is the most widely used, meaning that your targets (kids and grandkids) may already use Skype. Also, with Microsoft's purchase of Skype, it's likely that you'll soon be able to access Skype from Facebook, from your email application and from other common websites and apps. And for basic video calling, Skype is free.

What Do I Need to Be Able to Skype?

Chances are that you already have everything that you need to Skype. Some users will have to buy webcams. Most newer computers come with built-in webcams, but owners of older computers may have to purchase and install one. I'd suggest buying an inexpensive one at first and upgrading later if you find that you are indeed spending a lot of time Skyping. Your computer will also need a high-speed connection, and you'll need speakers or some type of earphones. Again--no problem for most computer users.

Setting Up Your Skype Account

Go to skype.com to set up an account. You'll need to supply a name and email address and choose a user name and password. Download and install the Skype software, following the on-screen instructions, and you're all set.

What If Something Doesn't Work?

None of the grandparents that I know encountered any problems getting set up, but if you do, there are several options. The Skype support page is fairly user-friendly. If you can't solve the problem there, I'd call on a tech-handy person--family, friend or neighbor. I'm sure you'll be able to get started without calling out a professional.

Before Making Your First Call

Before you can call someone, you'll need to find them in Skype. You find people through entering names, Skype user names or email addresses. Add those you find as contacts, and they'll be easy to find next time.

It's a good idea to set up video calls ahead of time, via phone call, text, or your usual method of communication. Making Skype "appointments" assures you that the people you want to chat with will be home and available. In the case of young grandkids, you'll also have to rely on their being in the mood to chat. If they're not, however, you can always talk to their parents!

Need more information? Watch a video about how to use Skype and learn ways to use Skype with grandchildren of all ages.

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