In times of Corona, the contacts between the younger and older generations in particular have been greatly reduced. For the safety of their older relatives, many families do not meet their parents or grandparents personally. But apart from normal phone calls, there is the possibility to chat face to face via video chat and thus at least visually ensure a certain proximity. We summarize what needs to be considered and have selected suitable, widely used video telephony applications for PCs and mobile devices.
We do not use exotics in the selected applications, as newcomers in particular will then find it more difficult to find help. However, our recommended applications are known to a wide range of users, so that quick solutions can be found in the event of problems. They all have one thing in common: they are free for contacts between the users of the app and technically run over the Internet, so an existing landline internet connection is advisable. WLAN is therefore used for portable devices that are not connected to the router via a LAN cable. Therefore, especially with your older relatives and friends, who may not have changed their telecommunications contracts and existing technology for a long time, consider the following tips before you get started:
- Is Internet available, and if so: as a flat rate?
- Does the router offer WiFi if necessary?
- Are the existing devices with which you or your loved ones want to make calls new enough for the software and connected to the Internet?
- Does the device have a web or selfie camera?
- Is there a person nearby who can help with the first call, for example a nice neighbor?
And don't forget: especially for PC, laptop and tablet, you should first set a specific time for the call at which all participants and, ideally, the telephony application are available.
Suitable communication devices
If there is no suitable device for the call, we recommend a tablet for 150 to 200 euros or an entry-level notebook (from 250 to 300 euros) with webcam as a relatively inexpensive solution. If a PC is available, it is enough to buy a webcam – however, these are currently in great demand, so that you have to be a little lucky to find cheap solutions. If there is no internet connection, you can find out about a – possibly only temporary – mobile phone contract. To do this, however, you need a suitable USB stick for access (PC or laptop) or, for tablets, you have to have a model that can enable mobile access, i.e. has a slot for the SIM card. If you already have a smartphone with a mobile phone contract, you should be informed about the volume of data that is available for internet use. You should think carefully about buying a smartphone as an alternative for older people, as it is more difficult with the small display than with a tablet or notebook. If the purchase of a smartphone was planned anyway, there is of course nothing against it. If all else fails, a friendly neighbor may be willing to share his WiFi access for the calls.