COVID-19 has changed everything, including how we gather together.
However, that doesn't mean we have to live in isolation. You might be finding yourself or your family feeling lonely or sad due to these new and rapid changes due to COVID-19. This is completely normal, and thanks to technology, we can still be smart about our health and interact with loved ones and friends. ConnectHome Akron firmly supports staying at home and social distancing while using tech to connect! Read on to discover free and low-cost ways to stay in touch with those that matter most to you!
Looking to bridge the digital divide and stay in contact with coworkers, friends, family, and more? ConnectHome Akron wants to help you! Click HERE to learn more about low-cost devices, free Wi-Fi, and more!
Apps and Platforms for connecting virtually
If you've been working from home, you might be familiar with Zoom already! Designed as a business solution, Zoom can be used for so much more than just teleworking. Zoom's free plan can host up to 100 participants and has unlimited 1 to 1 meetings. There is a 40 minute limit on group meetings, however. Click the link below to learn more about Zoom resources!
Discord is a popular communication software and app, favorited specifically in the gaming community. Available for free on desktops, Android, and iOS devices, Discord allows you to create group chats with friends, and also includes voice and video chat functionality. You can even stream your screen to your friends in the video chat. This allows for even more creative and fun virtual gathering ideas such as playing interactive games together or planning a movie night. Check out the link below for more info!
Available for free on mobile devices or desktop, this communication app is perfect for keeping in touch with one person or small groups of up to 10 people. Their group chat function, however, allows for up to 150 people! Calls to other Hangout users are free, and you can call any phone number for a fee. Click the link below to explore more about Google Hangouts.
Facebook is something many people likely already have and possibly have used before! Facebook has a robust Messenger app that you can access via desktop and mobile devices. You can video chat, voice call, and even message people one on one or create a group chat. Learn more at the link below.
A classic among communication tools, Skype is used widely for video calls, but also has a message function! Skype is available for use on desktops and smart devices, and may already be installed on your computer! While less flashy than other options like Discord, it is a familiar and user-friendly pick that may be easy for less techy folks. Click the button to explore more about Skype!
Houseparty is a new social app for iOS, Android, macOS, and Chrome users. It allows up to eight people to video chat at once in a “room.” You can have as many rooms as you want, and can freely change between them. Unlike most communication software, you don’t need to call someone. Users receive a notification when friends open the app and can join chats with friends (and friends of friends). You can also play games like Heads Up, Trivia, and more right on the app as well! Click the link below to check it out!
For those that have Netflix, this is a game-changer. Netflix Party is a Chrome browser extension that allows you to watch your favorite shows and movies with other people in synch! There is also a chat feature to talk about your favorite plot twists, and controls to pause, rewind, and play for the entire group watching. One thing to note is that all people using Netflix Party must also have a Netflix subscription. Ready to binge-watch with your friends? Click the link below to learn more!
Ideas for virtual get-togethers
1. Start or Continue Virtual Book Club
Have you always wanted to host a book club, or is your current club struggling with the stay-at-home procedures? Take it online with help from an app above and the Akron-Summit County Public Library! Take out digital books via ASCPL's digital resources (covered in our last blog!) and chat about them with friends via a video conference!
2. Virtual Brunch, Lunch, or Dinner Parties
Used to regular lunch with friends or family, but now missing that connection? You can still chat over meals thanks to technology! Pick a time, a theme (Italian, pizza party, or ice cream sundaes as some examples), and chow down with friends and family. It's like your home is now a digital restaurant!
3. Movie Night
With Netflix Party or Discord's screen sharing capabilities, virtual movie night becomes easy as pie! Throw on a classic or a recent blockbuster, pop some popcorn, and snuggle up with friends and family for a flick.
4. Game Night
Take game night digital by connecting virtually! Houseparty and Discord were made with this idea in mind, but Pictionary and charades can be done over any video chat software. Free online games can easily be found online with a simple search, too!
5. Virtual Birthday Parties
Birthday parties don't have to be canceled. Move them online instead! Sing happy birthday, share memories and photos of the guest of honor, and toast to good health and happiness as they blow out the candles! You can even mail small presents for them to open on stream, or make it a surprise party by disguising it as a work conference or webinar!
6. Coffee Talk
MIssing connecting with coworkers, friends, and family over a morning cup of coffee? Move this morning (or evening!) ritual online. Catch up on the latest going-on's in other's lives, and share good news from yours!
7. Dance Party
Friday night but you can't go out? No problem! Move to the music virtually with friends and family! It sounds silly, but dancing is exercise, and it is also a stress reliever! Let your kids, nieces, nephews, friends, and other family curate a playlist of favorites and learn a couple new dance moves!
8. Craft Party
Feeling artsy? Share your ideas with friends by hosting a virtual craft party! You could do the same craft, or work on passion projects and share your progress. This is also a good activity to do with children that might miss their friends or classmates!
9. Virtual Sports Night
Missing your favorite sports team? While the future of sporting is currently in limbo, there's still plenty to remember and talk about. Take to YouTube and screen share some classic moments in sports history! You could also chat about the recent NFL draft, spring training, and more.
10. Digital Letter Writing
Why not go old fashioned and write an email to someone you care about or lost touch with? It's simple, free, and you don't even have to get stamps! You can also attach photos and videos to keep your correspondent updated on your life, or give them a good laugh!
We hope that these resources will be helpful to you and your family and friends. We will be frequently updating the blog with more resources for those affected by COVID-19, so subscribe below! If you have any suggestions for the next blog topic, email firstname.lastname@example.org to suggest it. If we feature it, you'll get a special shoutout!