Social distancing poses many challenges, but keeping in touch with friends and family doesn't have to be one of them. Here are some ways technology makes it possible.
With the world on lockdown, everyone is turning to the virtual world to #stayconnected. Thanks to technology in its many avatars - video chats, group texting, virtual reality etc. - keeping yourself engaged and staying connected with family and friends is no biggie.
Skyping and so much more
Video conferencing apps aren’t limited to business calls anymore. In fact, recent reports claim that one in three Americans catch up with family and friends over video chats at least once a week!
And with the numerous video conferencing options out there - Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts etc - what better way to stay in touch with your loved ones? If you're using video conferencing as a special event stand-in, add a sense of formality by sending out an e-vite specifying the time and dress-code. Encourage attendees to bring props or use the simulated backgrounds that some systems provide. If the event is a surprise, be sure to have the VIP show up 15 minutes AFTER the scheduled time to allow attendees to trickle in.
Conversation going stale on video call?
No worries. Just switch to the more interactive ones that allow you to play fun games and use voice filters etc. while chatting with your friends. Houseparty is one such app that lets you play games such as Trivia, Charades and Heads Up with your friends and family.
If you don’t want the hassle of installing yet another video conferencing app, then just get creative with the one you already use. Here is a list of games you can play with your group over a video call:
- Charades: A popular party game, Charades can be easily played over a video call, provided you have a good internet connection. To make it more fun and engaging, pull out all stops to act out a popular song or a movie and let the good times unfold.
- Two truths One lie: Think you know all about your friends? Play this game and find out. As the name suggests, each player has to state 3 facts about themselves, of which one is a lie. The others discuss amongst themselves to figure out which is a lie.
- 21 Questions: If you and your group like playing quizzes, then this game is definitely for you. To play this, decide on a theme, for instance Hollywood. Then one person thinks of a Hollywood celebrity and the others have to guess who it is by asking a maximum of 21 questions. Sounds simple? Not always.
Games and conversation are a great way for you and your family to connect over video calls. But why limit your interactions to just that? Join an online yoga class or follow one of those Sweaty Betty workout routines as a group to get in shape together!
Text away your boredom
Whether you use Whatsapp, Viber or Signal to stay in touch with your loved ones, you can always do so much more on these texting apps. Here are some of the popular texting games you can play to beat boredom.
- Emoji translation: Are you a self-confessed movie buff and the in-house emoji expert? Why not bring these two together to string together a movie name (wait for it...) using only emojis and text it to your group to keep them guessing.
Here’s one for you:
🤴 💍 ⛰ (Lord of the rings)
- Trivia: Just because you can’t head to your favorite bar for a game of Wednesday Trivia doesn’t mean you can’t recreate it at home with your family/friends over a group chat. Keep your list of trivial questions (and their answers) ready and you are good to go!
Here’s one for you:
How many films did Sean Connery play James Bond in? Answer: 7
- Would You Rather: Another game that can make for some really fun virtual family time is Would You Rather. In this game, a player presents two hypothetical and uncomfortable scenarios that the other has to choose from. The more outlandish the scenarios, the more fun it can be. Needless to say, you would have to justify why you would rather fight a hundred duck-sized horses instead of one horse-sized duck.
- Storytime: This is a fun texting game where the players build on each other’s creative story snippets. These snippets can be silly, dramatic or completely outlandish and can go on as long as your group can keep the creative juice flowing.
VR to the rescue
Binge watching shows on Netflix is always an option when you are stuck at home. But if you want to shake things up a little, why not go on a tour to your favorite museum? Sounds like terrible advice? Not really. Many popular museums around the world are now using Virtual Reality to offer a virtual tour of the museum and their exhibits.
In fact, Google Arts and Culture has partnered with over 2500 museums around the world to showcase their collection. Sign up for a virtual tour with your family to your favourite museum from the confines of your couch for a dose of history and culture!
Online book clubs
During these distressing times, it is important to take a break from the constant COVID-19 updates. And what better way than to escape into the world of literature? Pick a spot, grab a book, and sip on some hot jasmine tea and you are all set for a couple of hours (at least).
And why stop there? Start an online book club and add those in your group who love talking books. Alternatively, you could look for online book clubs that are currently discussing works by your favorite author and join in.
As author Robert Mafarlane says, “literature has always done such an extraordinary job of provoking community and conversation - it’s no surprise to me that it should be doing so, so powerfully now.”
Here are a few popular online book clubs for those of who are interested:
- #CoReadingVirus by author Robert Macfarlane
- Reese’s Book Club by Reese Witherspoon
- Book Baristas by Natasha Minoso
Connected and content
Staying away from your family and friends for an extended period is challenging. But thanks to technology (and a stable internet connection) you can always be within reach. Just make sure you set aside some tech-free time on a daily basis to avoid tech addiction during these testing times. For tips on how to inculcate good tech habits, check out our blog on How to do a Digital Detox (the right way).