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School of Education Counseling and Psychology in Education


video chat, COVID-19, grandparents, infants, culture exchange


Child Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Social Psychology


Grandparents who were separated from their infant grandchildren during COVID-19 sought other ways to connect, including video chat. Video chat supports learning, and its features (e.g., contingent responsiveness) may allow for cultural exchange. However, technological problems may disrupt these exchanges. In a semi-naturalistic, longitudinal study, 47 families submitted up to three video chats and surveys. Families were predominantly White/Caucasian, highly-educated, and lived between 1 and 2700 miles apart. Multilevel models were used to predict the proportion of the sessions devoted to exchanging culture (e.g., holidays, parenting advice) and managing tech problems. Culture exchange did not change as a function of infant age, video chat experience, or when encountering tech problems. Although only marginally statistically significant, culture exchange increased as distance increased. Tech problems changed as a function of tech talk. A qualitative analysis revealed that cultural transmission occurred via a culture of care and sharing of information across video chat, that families adapted their behaviors to the new technology, and that technology disruptions rarely interfered with the flow of information. These findings demonstrate the ability to share culture when physically separated and in the presence of tech disruptions. Further, this study supports previous work on the emerging culture of video chat. Families adapted to being separated, and grandparents and infants successfully communicated through a new modality. Because video chat supports family relationships, equitable access to high-speed internet should be a priority to enable more families to use it.

Publication Title

Translational Issues in Psychological Science


©American Psychological Association, 2023.




We preregistered the study design as well as our research questions and survey items at OSF ( The coding scheme, data files, and analysis scripts can be found at (