Would you love to have a way to talk to your grandkids when you’re stuck at home?
Having a way to talk to your grandkids when you’re stuck at home or live to far away to hop in the car and run see them might just be one of the greatest inventions ever!
The creation of video apps was a game-changer for long-distance families. There are times when you just need to hear their voice and see their smile.
Hearing a grandchild’s voice is a bright light in the day for any grandparent, and I think it is just as bright for the child.
Sharing a video together while talking? That is a combination made in heaven! ?
Keeping lines of communication open with your family gives peace of mind.
This is especially true during tough times when you want to talk to your grandkids but everyone is stuck at home, like the unprecedented tragedy of the Coronavirus outbreak.
With the invention of video chat apps, the world of communication changed forever.
These apps give you a way to talk to your family when you can’t see them in person. They allow a long-distance family a way to stay connected.
Grammys and Grandpas can be part of the daily lives of their littles even if they don’t live within driving distance.
And when there is an unprecedented global crisis like Coronavirus, video apps give grandparents the reassurance they need to be able to see their families, even if it can’t be in-person.
Top Apps To Keep In Touch With Family
1 | GroupMe
GroupMe is designed for a couple people or a group of people to hang out and chat.
It works on iOS, Android and Windows phone. This makes it easy to share an event or day with family from essentially any location. You can use your smart phone on the go, your computer from work, or your tablet lounging in your recliner.
Visualize GroupMe as a private chat room for your family!
Enjoy a quick conversation, play a game together, or share a special event like a birthday party.
GroupMe is free.
2 | Skype
Skype is one of the old-timers on the list of communication via long distance. It has been around since 2003 and although many apps have come out since then it is still used by millions.
It has one of the widest array of options for use including video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices, the Xbox One console, and smartwatches over the Internet.
Instant messaging services, texting, video and audio images are also avaible for sharing on the platform.Skype is a great way to chat long-distance with grandkids! Keep reading for 18 more ways to spend time with your family every day for free! Click To Tweet
Skype calls are free to anywhere in the world as long as both parties are using the platform, which makes it a great option when families are living in different countries.
There are paid features available such as voicemail, text messaging, and making calls to a landline or cell phone.
3 | Talky
Talky is a video chat and group sharing platform for up to 15 people at one time, making it perfect for a small family gathering.
Depending on if you prefer using a smart phone or computer will determine if Talky is a good choice. It is primarily web-based.
The exciting part of Talky is that it is a browser-based platform so there is no software to install. Simply go to the website, type the URL you’d like to use, and share it with your family. To keep things private, your chat room (which you get to name) can be password-protected.
To keep everyone involved in the conversation and to see all the smiles, screen-sharing can be activated.
Talky is light on features, keeping it super-simple to use for even the technology-challenged family member.
If you want to spend time together without a lot of fuss, it is the perfect platform for you.
It is also free to use.
I have used Talky numerous times for business collaboration and it doesn’t get much easier than this! ?
4 | Facetime
FaceTime is Apple’s live video chat and audio calling service that is pre-installed on the iOS device.
Both participants in a conversation have to be using an iOS device since it connects you to another iPhone, iPad or Mac users via dialing their mobile number.
FaceTime is great for a quick video call just to have the comfort of chatting or seeing one another. Features such as group chat are not part of the app.
It is free to use the app and any charges would come from your cell phone provider.
5 | Google Hangouts
If you are a Gmail user, Google Hangouts is a great way to connect with family when you need to hear their voice and see their smiling faces.
Google Hangouts offers video calling, screen sharing, and instant messaging. It can be used on a computer or smartphone.
It is free, although there is a paid version for premium features.
I have used Google Hangouts for business collaboration for many years. It is simple to create a hangout and hop on a call for free with the other person or group being anywhere in the world.
6 | WhatsApp
WhatsApp is one of the most popular apps for chatting long distance. It is owned by the social media platform Facebook.
WhatsApp is a messaging service that can be used on a computer or smartphone via installing the app. Features include text messaging, voice and video calls, and group chat.
It is also nice you don’t have to use the same device each time. You can sync all of your chats to your computer and then use the device is most convenient for you.
The only thing needed to use the app is a mobile number. An account is not created or needed.
One of the reasons people love WhatsApp is because of its end-to-end encryption that guarantees privacy.WhatsApp is one of the most popular video apps. This list shares 18 more options to keep in touch with long-distance family and friends! #videochat #whatsapp #family Click To Tweet
WhatsApp is free to use. However, be sure to check your data plan on your smartphone so you don’t have any surprises on your cell phone bill for data charges. It uses your phone’s internet connection, instead of your cell plan’s voice minutes.
The WhatsApp team shares on the website, “Send photos and videos on WhatsApp instantly. You can even capture the moments that matter to you most with a built-in camera. With WhatsApp, photos and videos send quickly even if you’re on a slow connection.”
This makes it a perfect option to keep in touch with your littles.
7 | Jami
Another free alternative for keeping in touch with family is Jami.
Jami used to be called Ring, if that is familiar to you.
It offers end-to-end encryption ensuring your conversation is completely secure. It can be used on Linux, Android, AndroidTV, Windows, macOS and iOS.
Jami offers audio/video calling and screen sharing.
Ir does not rely on any central server which means your account is only stored on your device. When you set up your account it does not ask you to provide personal information like your email or phone number.
When you create a Jami account you will get a unique and customizable Jami username. This is how your contacts communicate with you.
8 | Viber
Viber advertises with the slogan, “Free and secure calls and messages to anyone, anywhere,” and the tagline, “Keep your conversations going no matter where you are.”
Viber offers voice and video calls and text messaging free of charge. Other features include group chats and expressive stickers, which can be fun with littles that are old enough to understand and also use them to share expressions.
Another option from Viber is to create a community, which is a great option when including multiple family members in various locations.
The upgraded and paid version, Viber Out, allows you to make calls to any phone number in the world with the option of using a desktop computer.
Viber also offers end-to-end encryption for top privacy and security. In addition it allows you to delete messages once seen for another layer of privacy.
9 | ezTalks Video Meetings
ezTalks would be an option to use if you want to talk to multiple members of the family at one time.
It is typically used for business collaboration or training. Features include an interactive whiteboard, which could be fun if you like to draw and share with your littles, and screen sharing so everyone can participate.
The devices available to use are Windows, Mac, Android, iOS devices and browsers, making it flexible for all family members to be able to use the device they prefer.
It is free to use with paid versions for more features, typically more people. However, the allowance on the free version is 100 so that will easily cover a family chat.
The one downfall is on the free version the time limit is 40 minutes and it would either cut off your conversation or start you on a plan to pay.
10 | Slack
Slack is typically used for business collaboration. I have used it for this on many occasions. It is considered a messaging platform.
However, if you are planning a family event and would like to communicate in one place, or there is a larger group to chat, it would be a good choice.
It keeps conversations organized by topic (think planning family reunion for example.)
Slack supports video and audio calls. It is free to use; however, paid plans with upgraded features is available.
Apps are added to either the iOS or Android, and it can also be used on a desktop computer.
11 | LINE
LINE was created in the tragedy of the Japan earthquake and psunami in 2011 to help families get in touch with each other.
While it wasn’t designed specifically to talk to grandkids when a grandparent is stuck at home, it was created to bring families together at a time of tragedy.
It is available to use on iOS and Android devices, as well as PCs and Macs, making it completely versatile and flexible.
LINE provides the opportunity for loved ones to connect no matter where they live in the world. Features include voice and video calls, messages, and an unlimited variety of exciting stickers that kids love. There is just something fun about being able to express yourself when chatting with a grammy or papa.
With over 600 million users worldwide, LINE is continually expanding its platform to make it better and provide a positive user experience for the customers.
It is free to use and continues to be the fastest growing mobile messenger app in the world.
12 | WeChat
WeChat boasts having over a billion users, showing its popularity.
It is available for iOS, Windows Phone, Android, Windows 10 in the Microsoft store and macOS in the app store. It is also available for desktop computer users; however, the login must be completed on a mobile phone for the web version.
Features of WeChat include text messaging, video and group chats. It also allows you to make calls to landline telephones and cell phones in some countries. It is not available worldwide.
13 | SnapChat
Snapchat offers a different way of talking to your grandkids when you’re stuck at home. It is a popular mobile app used to create online stories that disappear in 24 hours.
If you grandchild is old enough to have a smart phone and use it appropriately, chances are he or she is familiar with Snapchat! It is a popular choice among young people for communicating with their friends.
I even have a couple of friends that we Snapchat back and forth from time to time. It lightens up the day and makes me smile, even though it is quite silly!
In the user interface you can put on funny masks or add filters that make you look different than yourself. The masks are changed frequently so there is always something new and you never get bored.
With SnapChat you aren’t actually talking live to each other, but instead sharing videos and images back and forth to have a conversation. These are called ‘snaps’, thus the name SnapChat.
It is available for Android and iOS devices. There is not a charge to use SnapChat.
14 | Google Duo
Google Duo is a mobile app for video and voice calls. It works with smartphones, tablets, computers, and Smart Displays like the Google Nest Hub Max, and on devices for both iOS and Android.
With a super simple user interface, it is comparable to Apple’s Facetime, Facebook’s WhatsApp, and Microsofts’s Skype.
It is an excellent choice for long-distance family gatherings, allowing up to 8 people to be face-to-face on the call at the same time.
A fun feature of Google Duo is that you can see who is calling you before the call comes in with their Knock Knock feature. It shares a live video preview of the person before you even start a conversation. Kids love this feature, as they can dance and sing for you while they wait for the call to be picked up (knowing you can see them.)
You can also share a quick moment by sending a video message. This would be a positive way for littles to start their day with a video from grammy or grandpa.
Google Duo offers end-to-end encryption to ensure privacy for their users.
15 | Marco Polo
Marco Polo is a super fun app that is similar to Snapchat. Both apps allow you to send video chats to family, and draw or write text on the screen.
The difference is with Marco Polo your videos are saved rather than disappearing, allowing you to continue a conversation with your family. This is considered a benefit because you can go back through prior videos.
On the flip side, since there is no video time limit, if you don’t sift through and delete videos you can have hours upon hours of footage.
The user interface is also much less complex than Snapchat in reference to altering your video effects. For example, it has fewer filters and only a small array of voice effects compared to Snapchats vast library of both.
The Houston Press describes Marco Polo as “The Snapchat for old people”, clarifying the reason for this is because it doesn’t feel like a social media platform.
They also describe one of the most useful aspects of the the app is the ease of gathering groups of people together with it. When family lives around the globe Marco Polo brings them together to keep them close until they can actually meet in person.
It is the perfect app to talk to your grandkids when you’re stuck at home or can’t go see them, likely because this is exactly the reason it was created.
The creators share on their website when describing their purpose in creating the app, “With new additions to our family, staying closely connected to loved ones felt more important than ever. Everyone wanted to see the kids, and watch them grow. We didn’t want to just send the occasional photo or text. We wanted the family to be part of our kid’s lives—many of whom live 5,000 miles away. Video calls weren’t a great option. We tried. With family spread across the US, and other parts of the world, weekends felt overscheduled—coordinating different time zones was a challenge. It became like a barrier to feeling close, more like a chore.”
And Marco Polo was on its way!
It is a free app and successfully connects families around the globe.
16 | Telegram
Telegram is a cloud-based app that claims to be the fastest of any messaging app on the market in terms of how quickly messages are sent and received.
The communication in Telegram is end-to-end encrypted ensuring complete privacy.
The app is available and will sync across all devices including iOS, Android, PC, Mac, Linux and macOS.
Telegram is free and also ad-free for a good user experience.
The following infographics were taken from the Telegram website and offer a great breakdown of the features and capabilities available with the app.
17 | KakaoTalk
KakaoTalk is a communication app that offers voice and video calls. The Live Talk feature is available if you enter inside a chat room and meet up with your family.
The chat room has an option to go into lock mode for privacy protection.
When you register for the app it asks for your mobile number, which is how you are identified to make or receive calls.
The app can be used with iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Mac, and Windows.
Other features of KakaoTalk is the option to use fun stickers and animated emoticons to allow you to be expressive, as well as different backgrounds which can be changed during a video conversation. The voice filtering feature is also fun for kids!
KakaoTalk is a free app and works around the globe.
18 | Threema
Threema offers a fun way to send text and voice messages. You can also create a poll with this app.
The user interface is similar to WhatsApp. The chats are encrypted so privacy is ensured for the users. Even the developers have no way to access the locked chat conversations, making it secure forever.
Threema is available on Windows, Android, Linux, Mac, and iOS devices, including tablets and smartwatches.
Per their website, Threema offers the following basic features for both single chats and group chats:
- Send text and voice messages
- Make voice calls
- Share photos, videos, animated GIFs, and locations
- Send files of any type
- Use Threema on the Desktop
They also offer the following additional special features:
- Create polls
- Silently agree or disagree to received messages
- Hide confidential chats and password-protect them with a PIN or your fingerprint
- Use Threema Safe to anonymously backup your most important Threema data
- Choose between dark and light theme
- Use Threema on tablets and devices without SIM card
- Verify your contacts via QR Code
- Add text formatting to messages
- Create distribution lists
- Chat completely anonymously – no phone number required
- Contact sync is optional
- Quote text messages
- Pin chats
Many of the basic and special features are available only from an Android device.
At the time of this post the app is free to use; however, there is a small download fee.
19 | Signal
Signal is a popular chatting app that allows you to send text messages, create group chats, share files, and make video and voice calls. You can also send picture messages.
It can be used on devices with Android and iOS, as well as via desktop computer.
The messages on Signal are end-to-end encrypted ensuring total privacy for the user.
A fun feature that you may or may not like for family conversations is the ability to set messages to disappear. The purpose of this is to keep the chat history uncluttered. The user has the option to select different disappearing message intervals for each conversation. Everyone in the thread shares the same setting in that conversation.
Signal is free to use and available around the world.
Now that you have 19 options of ways to talk to your grandkids when you’re stuck at home or live too far away to run see them, I encourage you to find some fun activities to share while you’re chatting!
My post Old-School Activities Your Grandkids Will Love can give you some ideas, even though they are outdoor activities.
For example, Simon Says is a super fun game to play via video chat and from indoors.
If you have used any of these apps, step out of your comfort zone and try a new one that has some fun features like stickers or video filters. Every moment you share with your littles (no matter how little they really are) is a moment you will cherish. ❤️️
What are your favorite apps to spend time with your littles? Please share below so we can try them too!