Learning how to webcam chat can open up an exciting new form of communication to computer users.
Reasons to Chat
Learning how to webcam chat is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family members in far-off locations. The cost is significantly less than long distance calls, and the video adds a new dimension to the conversation. If you're interested in online dating, a video chat can be a great intermediate step between sending email messages and meeting in person. Some people also turn to webcam chats for "adult chatting" with explicit conversations.
It doesn't require much technical know-how and you will need just a few special programs and pieces of hardware to get started.
Naturally, the most important hardware you need for webcam chatting is a webcam. You may have received one as a bonus when you bought your current computer. If you don't already own one, you can buy one for as little as $20 from any electronics or department store. Of course, more expensive models will offer higher video quality and more features, but a basic model will be enough to give chatting a try. Most webcams should be plug and play, meaning they will work immediately after you plug them into the computer and direct you through any installation necessary.
Starting a Chat
There are two ways to participate in a webcam chat. Once you've set up a video connection, you can use voice or text to accomplish the "chat" part of the activity.
If you would like to use text chatting, your current instant messaging program may accommodate a webcam chat. Look for a "video chat" or "video conference" option. Possible programs include:
If you want to add voice to your video, you will need a microphone. This is another piece of hardware you may already own if it came packaged with your computer. Some webcams also include a microphone. If you're participating in a voice chat, headphones are also useful for keeping your conversations private and not disturbing others.
Getting your system set up is actually the longest part of the process. Once you've done this preparatory work, it's quite simple to start chatting:
- Start your instant messaging program or log in to the chat website.
- Add the person you would like to chat with to your contact list. The program may call this the buddy list or the friend list.
- Make sure your webcam and microphone, if necessary, are turned on.
- Invite the other person to chat, or accept an invitation to chat. The program or website should take care of establishing the connection.
- Enjoy your conversation!
Remember that you and the person you are trying to chat with must be using the same chatting program.
Webcam Chat Tips
- A broadband connection is useful for webcam chatting. Dial-up connections will significantly delay the transmission of video.
- Make an appointment for your video chat and set aside a dedicated block of time. Webcam chatting doesn't lend itself to multi-tasking as much as other types of chat do. The other person doesn't really want to watch you eat a sandwich or stare at an empty chair while you load the dishwasher.
- If you're a parent, be cautious about letting your children participate in webcam chats. Know the people they are talking to, and monitor any chatting carefully.
- If you're chatting with acquaintances you've met online, make sure you know what type of chat you're getting into before you participate. You don't want to sign on for what you think will be a friendly chat and face someone who is completely naked.