What Parents Need to Know about Kids & Video Chat

Words by
Holly Rawlings

JUL 18, 2023

What Parents Need to Know about Kids & Video Chat

It’s a sweet experience for our children to connect with loved ones over video chat. With all of the guidance regarding screen time, many parents have questions about the benefits and risks of this type of virtual communication.

Is Video Chat Considered Screen Time?

Video calling is considered screen time or media time. In moderation, video chat is considered one of the most beneficial ways for children to interact with digital media.

Screen Time and Young Children

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that before the age of two, screen time be limited to an occasional video chat. They emphasize the importance of not replacing face-to-face communication and experiences with digital interactions.

Screen time can interfere with children’s brain development

Between the ages of zero to five, children experience an intense and rapid period of brain development. Personal interaction and hands-on experiences fuel that growth. 

Digital media via television, tablets, parent and personal devices are readily accessible. Essentially, young children cannot transfer the information they take in and apply it in meaningful ways outside the screen.

young smiling girl holding a soccer ball

Screen time and obesity

Much research has been done to discover risk factors in developing childhood obesity. Using screens more than one to one and a half hours per day is a commonality amongst kids who struggle to maintain a healthy weight. 

Screen time and mental health

The AAP also warns of the negative outcomes of excessive screen time on youth. Children who spend too much time on screens can feel more depressed and isolated, grapple with internet addiction, and are more likely to be exposed to online predators.

Teaching Kids to Evaluate Apps

In the digital age, one skill kids will need is to be able to evaluate the benefits and costs that are inherent in every app. Use this guide to encourage young people to think about their motivation for getting an app as well as any unintended consequences that may result.

Teens and Video Chat

Adolescents spend even more time in virtual spaces. Common Sense Media surveyed over 1600 teens and found that the average time on screens outside of school had risen to 8.5 hours per day.

From social media apps with video sharing capabilities, to gaming apps like Discord, teens have countless avenues to video chat with friends and strangers. 

Digital Permanency

Growing teenagers may not fully comprehend the notion of digital permanency, and the lasting consequences of sharing inappropriate content. Some social media platforms, like Snapchat, allow users to share “disappearing” messages. Kids may not realize that recipients can screen record these messages and share them online.

Predators on video chat

The FBI estimates there are over 500K predators online each day. The majority of victims falling between the ages of 12-15 with 90% of contact happening through chatrooms and instant messaging. These criminals frequently persuade children to undress over video chat. They record these exchanges and use the footage as child sex abuse material (CSAM), many going on to blackmail their young victims in sextortion scams.

little girl with hands over face being recorded by another student in classroom

Correlation to crime

The time spent virtually socializing seems to correlate with the incidence of becoming a victim of a crime. Researchers determined that the more an adolescent spends video chatting and other forms of virtual connection, the greater likelihood the child will be the victim of violent and property crimes and the target of in-school and online bullying. [1]

Healthy Habits for All Kids

When thinking about what guidelines you want to establish as a family, experts recommend first prioritizing sleep, outside play, family mealtime, school, and real-life interactions with family and friends. 

Safe phones and watches make it easier for kids to have a healthy relationship with technology.

Video Calling in Moderation

In moderation, video chat benefits even young children. There is potential for learning new words and forming personal relationships when video calling. These cognitive and social gains are only possible because the time on screen is interactive where they receive cues from their partner. 

Older kids can use chat to augment in-person relationships, but never to replace them.

Family Discussions about Screen Time

Working together to create a family media plan helps families evaluate their tech use and align the way they consume media with their values. These conversations do not have to be battles (although there may be some friction). Helping kids understand the “why” of the limits goes a long way in accepting the plan.

Safe Video Chat

Face-to-face connection with friends and family is important, even when far apart. To give families the benefits of video chat without the dangers inherent in leading video calling options, Gabb developed our own safe video chat feature for Gabb Messenger. It lets kids and parents enjoy video calls while still giving kids the safety they deserve and parents the peace of mind they need.

Gabb Messenger Safe Video Calling enables one-on-one video calls exclusively with contacts that use Gabb phones or with parents or guardians who use Gabb Messenger Parent and are paired with a Gabb phone. 

Unique safety features include:

  • Smart monitoring that ends a call if nudity is detected
  • Parent-control so only parents can enable/disable the feature
  • No group calls
  • No anonymous calls or ads
  • Parents can only video call with their own kids, not other Gabb phone users

Let Us Know What You Think

Do you worry about video calling for your kids? Any suggestions for other parents of things that have worked for your family? Let us know in the comments below.


  • What is Omegle? How Kids are Talking to Strangers Online on Mar 21, 2024 01:32 PM

    […] on any device through an internet browser. No login was required.The platform offered both text and video chat with strangers, making it more enticing (and more dangerous) for younger users.Created in 2009, it […]

  • Connor on May 27, 2024 05:01 PM

    Can you video call a contact that is on an iPhone?

  • Gabb on May 28, 2024 06:08 PM

    As long as the iphone has Gabb Messenger for Parents downloaded! https://gabb.com/support/?a=Video-Calling-in-Gabb-Messenger-Overview-and-Troubleshooting---id--WN27mK0dQsKYAxW3l7EImg

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