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School of Education Counseling and Psychology in Education


Video chat, early childhood, grandparent, closeness, proximity, grandparent-grandchild relationship, enjoyment, intergenerational relationships, COVID-19, ecological systems, family systems


Video chat may allow young children and grandparents to develop and maintain bonds when they are physically separated because it enables them to share experiences with each other in real time. We used an ecological model framework (Bronfenbrenner and Morris, 2007) to examine factors associated with the development of the grandparent-grandchild relationship during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many families were experiencing reduced opportunities for in-person interaction. We analyzed survey data from grandparents (N = 855) and parents (N = 846) of children ages 0-5 years. Predictor variables included participant characteristics (age and education level), proximity variables (geographical distance and whether grandparents had met their grandchildren in person), as well as video chat-specific factors (e.g., frequency of video chats, activities used during video chats). The frequency of video chat and the variety of behaviors engaged in during the video chats predicted grandparents’ feelings of closeness to their grandchild as well as grandparents’ and parents’ enjoyment of family video chats. These predictors were statistically significant after controlling for participant characteristics and physical proximity, suggesting that when families are separated (e.g., due to pandemics, deployment, geographic distance, etc.) family video chats may help to build and maintain grandparent-grandchild connections in an enjoyable way. One future implication is that family video chat may introduce children to the connection between screen and world, a supportive first step in understanding and using technology.

Publication Title

Zooming Through Development: Using Video Chat to Support Family Connections


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