Does FaceTime or Skype with Grandma count as screen time?

Good news! Videochatting on FaceTime or Skype can be excluded from your kid's overall screen-time minutes. In fact, you may want to introduce videochatting to your family (if they haven't discovered it already.) Studies show that babies can tell the difference between video-chatting and other kinds of video (such as TV shows), so it's a great way to build cross-generational relationships or bond with a relative who's away.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says videochatting is OK for toddlers as young as 18 months. It's really no different from talking to a family member on the phone -- and it's actually easier to involve babies and toddlers in video-chatting since they can respond to facial expressions better than verbal language alone.

Try these tips to keep the sessions fun and productive:

Choose a good time. Finding a time when everyone's at their best may not be realistic but try to avoid videochatting right before bed because it may be too stimulating. 

Have the person you're chatting with read a short book. Kids will enjoy being read to and it will keep them occupied and engaged. Try Love Books for Little Ones, Best Books for Toddlers, and Best Baby Books.

Play age-appropriate games. Easy, entertaining activities such as peek-a-boo, color-naming, and shape-matching increase the bonding potential.


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Kid, 11 years old

I think that it shouldn't be counted as screen time. Bonding with relatives is important, especially if they live in a different state, province or even country. Letter writing is good for older kids, but they do take a very long time if relatives live further away (hence the name snail mail), and using tech is just more convenient.
Teen, 14 years old written by scholarlyleopard

I wouldn't count it as screen time at all. As kids get older, the grow way apart from their relatives, ESPECIALLY grandma and grandpa. It's lovely that your child has such a good relationship that they screen chat with them!! Please don't take that away, please encourage that relationship. Later on if they want it to be with friends, I would say yes, count that -- the only type of online friend time I wouldn't count would be voice calling, as it encourages calling friends and making real connections. Then again, there has to be a certain age where "screen time" is extended, to keep up with the constant surge of media and we have to deal with (I'd recommend anywhere from 2.5-3 hours a day once your child hits 13). However, until then, please DON'T count Skype with grandma as screen time, encourage it :)
Adult written by mswise

If it makes Grandma happy to Skype, then I think this can be acceptable from time to time and not count as "screen-time." If the child is school-aged, it can also be wonderful to encourage letter-writing, the old-fashioned way on paper....