WhatsApp is an app that is like the phone and text messaging apps already on your phone, except it uses the internet instead of your phone minutes or text message allowance. It still uses your mobile phone number, but you can use WhatsApp to message and call your friends and family for free, even if they are abroad!
WhatsApp is great for video calling with your family, although you can only have 4 people in a call at any one time. If you need more, or you want to do it on your computer, you can also check out our pages on setting up group calls on Skype, Houseparty, and FaceTime.
If you can’t be there in person to help, you can show your elderly parent this page to guide them through setting up a Whatsapp Video Call on iPhones and Android phones.
If your relative struggles with technology, then you may be better off buying a purpose-built video-calling device for the elderly. Read the Age Space guide to the Best Video Calling Devices for the Elderly.
This includes the CallGenie, which lets you make video calls directly on to your relative's TV!
Using WhatsApp if you have an Apple iPhone
If you don’t like FaceTime or you want to video call with people who don’t have iPhones, WhatsApp on iPhone is a great alternative!
1. Downloading WhatsApp on iPhone
Search for “Whatsapp” on the App Store or follow this link to download Whatsapp on your iPhone. It is a free application so clicking “Get” won’t cost you any money. Click the button and enter your password if prompted to start the download. Downloads work best if you are connected to WiFi so make sure this is the case. WhatsApp will then start downloading onto your phone.
Once it is downloaded, click open to be taken to the app.
The next step is to get set up using your number. Throughout the set up you might be presented with boxes popping up, asking if WhatsApp is allowed to access the microphone, camera, or is allowed to send notifications.
You will want to press “Allow” for each of these – as they are vital for video calling.
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2. Getting Set Up
WhatsApp works using your phone number so, once you have agreed to the terms and conditions, you will need to type your phone number in starting from the 7. Once you’ve done, click “Done” in the top right-hand corner.
Once you have put in your number you will first be asked to double check they have the right one for you, click “Yes” if so. Then, to make sure they are connecting the right number to the right phone they will send you a verification code. This code will be sent as a text message to your Messages App. Sometimes your phone will know this is what is being sent and put it in for you, if not all you have to do is copy the code from your Text Messages and input it manually. Now just type in your name and you’re all set up!
3. Making A Whatsapp Video Call on iPhone
Great, you should be all set up on WhatsApp, now to make a video call with your loved ones!
Firstly click the phone icon at the bottom of the screen, then the new call icon at the top right-hand side of the screen. This should then open up a tab with a list of the contacts on your phone. Scroll until you find the person you want to video call with and click the video camera icon. This will start a call with that person!
Remember that if it asks you for permission to use the camera and/or microphone on your phone that you allow it to – for a video call to work.
Next, to add up to 3 people in a call click the person-plus icon in the top right and select another person from your contacts – you’re now all set up on a group video call!
Using WhatsApp if you have an Android Phone
The process once you’ve downloaded WhatsApp is much the same across both devices, so it won’t be long until you’re set up to make a video call on your Android phone.
If you don’t have an iPhone but you do have a smartphone, it is most likely that it is an Android phone.
Android is the operating system your phone runs on and includes Samsung, Google, HTC and Moto phones among others.
Throughout the set up you might get pop-up messages from WhatsApp asking for permission to access your contacts, camera, and microphone. It is important that you click “Allow” to allow this, to allow you to make video calls.
1. Downloading WhatsApp on Android
To download WhatsApp onto your phone, follow this link or search for it in the Google Play Store (another app on your phone already). Press install and wait for it to finish downloading. Once downloaded, press open and it will open the app. WhatsApp is now on your phone and you can find it with your other apps, for when you want to use it.
2. Getting Set Up
So now you have WhatsApp downloaded on your phone it’s time to get set up. When you first open the app you will have to accept the terms and conditions, allow the app to access your contacts and put your phone number in, starting from the 7. This is the phone number of the phone you’re using WhatsApp on. Once you’ve done this click “Next”.
Next, WhatsApp will ask you to verify your number by sending you a text message with a code for you to input on the app. Most of the time the app will do this automatically, but you may have to do it manually if not.
Once WhatsApp has verified your phone number, all that’s left to do is to put in your name and you’re all set up! Now it’s time to start a video call.
3. Making A WhatsApp Video Call on Android
To start a group video call with your family go to the phone tab along the top of the screen and press the green phone icon at the bottom right. A list of the contacts on your phone will pop up. Now you can either select a person you want to call by pressing the camera button next to their name, or make a New Group Call. Now just select the contacts you want to be in the group call with you, and when you are ready press the video camera button to start the call!