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Staying Connected with Family During COVID-19: Ways to Use Technology

People are made for connection, according to Mental Health America, and regular connections with others increase happiness, promote better health, and can even lead to a longer life. With the current COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, face-to-face connections have become harder to facilitate while staying safe. Thankfully, connecting digitally has never been easier. Here are some tips and tricks for staying connected with your loved ones with the use of technology during this time of physical distancing.

Virtual Meetings

Virtual meetings are not only for the business world. Popular apps on desktop and mobile devices make it easy to talk in real-time with a single person or large groups of people virtually. Many of these apps are free to use with an email address and an internet connection.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Zoom is a popular virtual meeting software that can facilitate video meetings of up to 1,000 participants. Plus, it’s a free solution for families looking to host a virtual meeting that everyone can join, regardless of device. Zoom makes it easy for a whole family to video chat and stay connected at the same time.
  • Skype is another popular virtual meeting software that has been around since the mid-2000s. It has been used by millions of people to host online video calling and instant messaging sessions.
  • Facetime is Apple’s proprietary video communication app that is exclusively for iPhone and Mac users. If you have an iPhone, it is the simplest and most straightforward solution to connect with another person using an Apple device. Keep in mind if you are an Android user, this will not be available to you.


Chat-Based Communication

Instant messaging has transformed from the earlier days of only having email. These days many instant messaging apps are built into other popular websites like Gmail, Facebook, and Instagram and are easy to use once connected to the person you’d like to message.

Instant messaging apps are also a great way to chat with large groups of people—having an instant message with 10 people is a breeze. Here are some of our favorite instant messaging platforms:

  • Slack is perfect for large groups of people to connect and stay up-to-date with one another. You’re able to create an account simply and don’t need to be connected to social media in order to use it. Slack has “channels” that are used for organization and can be a great way to contain conversation topics to be separated from another like cooking and sports. Using Slack for a general group chat or more focused group chats is easy.
  • Facebook Messenger is part of the Facebook platform and is a feature everyone with a profile can create. Facebook Messenger is mostly used 1-on-1 but can also be used to send messages within a group of people. Because most people already have a Facebook account and use it regularly, it’s easy to get a chat set up and going with family members.


Online Calendars

Keeping calendars up-to-date are a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page and schedules are synced. Digital calendars allow you to quickly invite multiple people to a single event where they will all get notifications and reminders about the event. Many times, the hardest part about virtual meetings is having everyone remember when they are, so calendars are a great way to ensure everyone is available and ready for a virtual meetup.

Google Calendar is a great option for people with a Gmail account and Apple Calendar is perfect for anyone with an Apple device.


Socially Distanced Virtual Activity Ideas

Even with all the great technology allowing us to connect during social distancing, you still need some activities that everyone can enjoy at the same time. Even if your family isn’t in the same room, here are three activities that can be done in the comfort of your own home while safely social distancing.

  • Start a family book club and set up virtual meetings to discuss the development of the book. A book club is an excellent way to have new and exciting discussions with your family over a shared experience of reading the same book.
  • Watch movies together virtually. With streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, watching the same movie together at the same time in different locations is possible. Start the movie at the same time and instant message during it for an in-movie discussion.
  • Virtual board game nights are possible with everyone being able to see the board over a Zoom or Skype video meeting. Join in with the whole family for a game of Monopoly or trivia and have a fun-filled night while safely social distancing.