by Stacey Malaniff
There is a lot of focus now on ‘staying connected while being apart.’ We, as a community, are doing our best to protect each other from a hidden threat which we are all facing. However, we also mustn’t forget our responsibility to look after ourselves – maintaining a sense of connection and community at any point in our lives is important for our well-being, but especially during this time of isolation and uncertainty.
With that said, this article is a collection of applications and software for you to use with your friends and family who you are currently apart from. There are even some games which you can play together online. This will allow your mind a much-needed rest from the constant talk of the current pandemic.
For A Group Catch Up
WhatsApp Video Call
We all know WhatsApp, but did you know you can have a video chat with up to four people using the app? Just place a normal video call by clicking into a conversation and pressing the video symbol at the top right. Once on the call, you can click ‘Add Participant’ and select the person/people you wish to add to the video call.
This can be done using your phone or desktop and is ideal for group chats of more than four people.
Google Hangout is the easiest to use when you use it with a Gmail account. When you are signed into your Google account, you can click on the square of squares and click on the Hangouts option with a green quotation mark. A pop up box will appear and you can select video. You will then be prompted to invite people to the hangout, you can do this if you know everyone’s email addresses, or you can copy the link given and text the link to whomever you want to chat with on there.
Another useful platform used for video calls is Zoom. This is a very common option used by companies around the world. It can, of course, be used socially as well. One person will set up a meeting and will be given a code and password and share them with the rest of the group. They can then open the web page or app and select ‘Join a Meeting’ and input the code and password when prompted.
Be warned, you can only host a Zoom meeting for 40 minutes on a free account, so you might need to keep alternating between the host in your group chat.
For a Games Night
Houseparty is an app which allows you to play games through the video call. You can play Pictionary, Heads Up!, and quizzes. I played it last night with some friends and we definitely got the most laughs out of the Pictionary! To use Houseparty, you will need to download it in your app store and then create an account. It’s very quick and easy. Once you have done that, you can add the contacts that you want as your ‘friends’ in Houseparty and then start a video call with them. Press the dice on the top right of the screen if you want to play a game as well.
Netflix party is an extension to Netflix which allows you to invite your friends to watch the same show or movie and chat as you watch. It’s a great way to recreate those movie nights we’re all missing out on at the minute. To try out this new feature, follow the instructions as laid out by the streaming site:
Go to Netflix’s website. Choose any show you would like to watch and start playing the video. To create your party, click on the red “NP” icon located next to the address bar. Then click “Start Party” to get the party started, and share the party URL to invite friends.
If you and friends and family usually enjoy card games, you can use this online site. And click on the game you want to play. This works similarly to Google Hangouts, as you must share a link to the other players. This would work best on desktop while video calling using another app at the same time.
For something a little bit different, you can host a game of countdown using this fun website on your desktop while being on a group call on Google Hangouts or a WhatsApp video call.
You might have forgotten about Meet Up since the isolation period began, but it’s time to consider it again. So many Meet Up groups have made the transition to online hosting. Just check out your usual interests and see what’s available! Alternatively, you can search ‘online’ and explore the results.
These are just some examples of the opportunity we have online to stay connected and share a laugh through stressful times. If you have any more suggestions please let us know in the comments below.