In light of the corona-virus outbreak, social distancing is quickly becoming the new normal. And if you’re like most people, you’re realising that staying inside 24/7 takes quite an adjustment—and may require a few extra purchases.
First thing first: What exactly is social distancing? It’s a term recently coined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that essentially involves staying at least six feet away from other people (and staying home whenever possible) to prevent further spread of corona-virus.
Whether you’re trying to successfully work from home, keep your kids entertained (no small task), avoid going to the store, or are bored and looking for ways to entertain yourself; here’s everything you need at home to practice social distancing.
However, there are many ways to stay connected during social distancing.
Of course, there are phone calls and texts. A quick, “I’m thinking about you” text could be a boost for someone.
But sometimes people want to see other’s face and do activities together. Sending pictures to one another is a fantastic way to send love and get some face time in. Sending random photos of what the kids are up to might be a daily highlight for a lonely grandmother.
We have put together a list of ways to socialise with friends and loved ones, as well as ways to play together, without leaving your house.
Free Social Connection
Google Hangouts can be used for messaging or free video or voice calls with one person or a whole group. Hangouts is a free smartphone app or Google Chrome Extension. It can be used on any kind of smartphone and even has fun features like photos, stickers, and emojis.
For iPhones, there is the Face time option, but it only works with other iPhones or iPads. This app allows for multiple faces to appear on the same screen for nearly real gatherings. This is a great option for virtual happy hours or family reunions.
Zoom is traditionally a business meeting tool, but can be used for virtual happy hours and family get-together. It is also useful for conference calls or a video call for some face-to-face time.
Skype is another free tool that can be used for video calls, chatting, or conference calls. It can be used on a computer as an app or through the web or as a smartphone or tablet app.
Facebook has a whole host of virtual connectivity options. In addition to sharing statuses and commenting on someone’s wall or news feed, there is Facebook Messaging, which can be between two people or a whole group, allowing for a chat or texting option. Facebook also has a new feature called Watch Party. In this feature, the host can pick out a queue of Facebook videos and line them up for the party. The host invites friends (other friends can join later, too) and they can see and hear each other, as well as comment on the videos. Bring on the cat videos!
Netflix Parties is a fun way to watch Netflix shows and movies with your friends. It is available only through the Chrome browser, but it is free. There is a chat window where group members can comment and chat during the show.
Houseparty is a video group chat app for smartphones. In addition to chatting face-to-face, you can play interactive games, including Quick Draw, which is like Pictionary. There are also screen sharing capabilities. Best of all, it’s free.
The Oculus Virtual Reality devices have a free feature that allows people to connect around the world in a virtual movie theater. Brothers in New York and Colorado can watch a movie with their father in Florida, chatting and commenting during the show. Multiplayer games are available as well, but all parties must have an Oculus device and the same game to play together.
Most video game systems have multiplayer games available. These are a great way to connect with other people while keeping a safe distance. Even better is using headsets to talk in real-time with other players. It is an opportunity to defeat the enemy or solve a puzzle with friends but can be a way to meet new people from all over the world.
Just be sure to always practice online safety; this is especially important for children.
If talking is not important and you are interested just in interactive entertainment, there are multiplayer games and apps for just about every person and interest. Check your app store for suggestions.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. And good luck.