There’s lots of good options now for being able to talk to your family and friends securely. Old messaging protocols like SMS are insecure, designed in a world without strong encryption.
Depending on what collection of devices your family and friends have, how you approach this may vary. In some cases it might not be too much additional effort, which is great! It’s easier than ever to ensure your texts and phone calls are being encrypted securely.
Within an Apple Ecosystem
If you’re in an Apple ecosystem (iPhone, iPad, Mac) - you’re probably already using iMessage which is strongly encrypted. Whenever you’re texting another person with iMessage, it’s being encrypted end to end; it’s impossible for actors in between to read your messages.
If you’re calling someone else that you know is also on an iPhone - Facetime and Facetime Audio are also encrypted end to end. They’re also higher quality than standard phone calls, as they’re using modern audio processing techniques.
Within an Android Ecosystem
If you’re in an Android ecosystem (Any Android phone or tablet) and using Google Hangouts - you’re already encrypted in transit. Texting between two android phones will opt to use Hangouts and encrypt your messages over the air. Hangouts is also available on iOS devices, for those in the Apple Ecosystem.
Google’s future Duo and Allo apps support an ‘incognito’ mode, in which communications are encrypted in transit. There’s no reason not to use it!
Facebook Messenger does support encrypted conversations, called “secret conversations”. It’s full end-to-end encryption, however it must be enabled on a per-conversation level.
Signal is designed for the sole purpose of being encrypted end to end. It’s got the standard messaging featureset: group chats, stickers, and more. Its install base is a bit smaller, so it may be a bit harder to pick up than the messenger everybody is on. It’s certainly worth downloading and playing with!