Why My Dad is Horrible at Video Chatting

Tips to Make Dad a Better Video Chatter

I love my father very much. He's the person who inspired my love for tech from a young age, and he still remains in the loop when it comes to the latest and greatest. However, one thing dear old Dad isn't so great at is using FaceTime and Skype. Perhaps overwhelmed with his newfound enthusiasm for his iPhone, Dad committed quite the number of errors and has been driving his kids a little bananas. It is with memories of his early days with his iPhone 4 that I dedicate this post about FaceTime & Skype etiquette tips to him in hopes of helping him along his path to video chatting....

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One of our favourite articles to send to family & friends that desperately need a lesson in basic Skype etiquette is Michael Arrington's post for Tech Crunch. He has some great tips in this post, some of which we incorporate with a few ideas of our own to smooth out quality facetime with our dad...

FaceTime & Skype Etiquette Tips:

1) It's not a conversation until both sides are engaged: One of the tips from Arrington, this tip reminds us all that just sending a message to someone does not a conversation make. One of the most annoying things about a chat program like Skype, which is often left running in the background while away, is that seeing another user online does not mean they're necessarily ready/able to chat. If one does not respond to your initial chat message, do not barrage them with more messages. Perhaps they are busy or away and cannot talk at this point. A lack of response should not entail a conclusion that you are being ignored or devalued in any way.

2) Use your "status" properly: Similar to the first tip, remember to use your chat indicator wisely. There is a reason why there is more than just "Online" as an indicator. Change your status to "Away" or "Do Not Disturb," when you are unable to chat for a period of time. Remember, not everyone uses their status properly and sometimes people do not have time to change this, so use the status as just one indication of the availability of the other person and do wait for them to respond to your message before sending them further messages.

3) Don't begin with video: Arrington's tip of not starting a Skype conversation with a video chat works just as well for FaceTime. Please folks for the love of all that is holy don't cold video call. We are not yet in the age of the Jetson family and video calls are still not the norm. Most video calls do need to be coordinated and it's a good rule of thumb to text or voice call first and get the other person's consent before initiating them. Just because both parties have the ability to make a video call does not mean that video calling is a right.

4) Don't video chat & text on the same device: We all know someone who has done this, initiated a video call and then decided to also respond to several text/chat messages on the same device. Newsflash, this is loud. No one wants to hear the sounds of someone typing in their ear, so please give the video chat most of your attention and hold off on those texts till after the call.

5) Silence the "plings": Just like no one wants to hear your typing in their ear, they also do not want to hear the various indications that you have received a new message (we call the Mac mail received sound the "pling") or have just sent one. If you anticipate a fairly long video or voice call, temporarily turn off your new message indicators for a more peaceful chat.

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6) Don't abuse the Enter button: We love Skype, but one thing that we have noticed when chatting with family & friends on there is the abuse of the Enter button. Arrington hit the nail on the head with his video demonstrating just how incredibly annoying Enter abuse is for the receiver. Skype is not a telegram and you do not pay for the amount of characters you send in each message, so please write full sentences and thoughts before hitting Enter.

7) Check your bandwidth: It is no secret that video and voice calls are bandwidth intensive. If you are barely connecting to a shared WiFi connection in a crowded cafe do not choose this opportunity to begin a FaceTime/Skype call. It is incredibly frustrating to try and understand someone who has opted for a video or voice chat when they can barely hear you or be heard themselves.

8) Use a headset: Who loves the sound of feedback? Oh wait, no one does. Please use a headset when you voice or video chat to reduce feedback. Feedback is never pleasant and fluctuates from being rather annoying to making a call practically impossible.

9) Don't video call & drive: We know that the cell coverage where you are driving is fantastic, but that does not mean that it is a good time to make a video call. As much as we love to see your face we want you to stay safe and keep your eyes on the road. Although we do think you are a very competent and skilled driver we stand by our judgment call that driving time is never a good time for a video call.

10) Look at us when we are video chatting: Everyone likes to check their image when a video chat begins, but don't let that small square inside of the big video chat window become a constant distraction. You called to talk to us, not to stare at your image in the smaller square which we can totally tell you are doing.

11) If you would not talk to us in person there, please don't video chat from that location: We all know that everyone's relationships are different, but we are not fans of catching up with friends & family while they are working on bathroom hygiene type things. We do want to talk to you, but not from the bathroom. If it would be awkward if we were standing right next to you having the conversation, it's not a good time for a video chat.

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More tech etiquette from the Unplggd archives:

(Images: Flickr members Jon Rawlinson, Angie Torres & Susy Morris, and Alex Wardey licensed for use under Creative Commons)