Tips for Staying Connected Virtually

Thursday May 28, 2020

Stay Connected

With Coronavirus leading to stay at home orders and social distancing, it is easy to feel isolated and alone. According to experts, a lack of in person contact can actually lead to stress and loneliness. This is why it has become so important to stay connected with friends and family virtually! Video calls and messaging are becoming the new normal. But for many people digital communication is a new experience which can be stressful and confusing to figure out. But once you get over the initial learning period, it can be a fun and safe way to keep in touch with friends and family and keep your social life intact! 

This blog will cover several topics relating to connecting digitally. From different platforms and services to tips on scheduling to fun activities to do over a video call. I’ve also included some resources at the end of the blog to help you get started! 

 

Platforms to Stay Connected 

Video Calls

Over the past few months video calls have become increasingly popular! It seems like everyday someone is posting a screenshot to social media of their video call with friends, coworkers, and family. If you are new to video calling, here are a few tips to help you get started! First, you will need a computer or laptop with a camera, a smartphone, or a tablet. A smartphone or a tablet will already have a camera built in and ready to use. Many laptops also have cameras built in, but if not, you can find affordable video cameras at Best Buy, Amazon, Target and several other retailers. It can be helpful to use a headset or a microphone when on a video call. This will help make the audio more clear and reduce background noise. However that is totally optional! The microphone built into your computer, phone, or tablet will do the job. 

Once you have the right equipment, you will need to find an app that works for you. Some of the more popular platforms include Facetime (iPhones only), Zoom, Google Meet, and Skype. Each platform offers different levels of service. Most platforms allow you free video calls as long as the number of people in the call remains below a certain number. Before choosing a platform, figure out how many people you will be calling and then do some research on which platform will work the best! Once you find a platform that fits your needs, you are ready to get started!  

Before you start your first call, test out your camera and audio connection. This will help you ensure that everything is working before you get into a call. Set yourself up in a quiet location with decent lighting.This will reduce any distracting background noise so you can focus on connecting! 

 

Instant Messaging 

Another way of connecting virtually that is becoming more important is instant messaging. Facebook messenger, whatsapp, and snapchat are great options other than your standard text messaging. They allow a more interactive service than simply texting which can make connecting with people feel more personal! During this time you might find it more exciting to send more photos and videos, helping you feel more connected. One thing I have found helpful is setting up a group message. An ongoing group chat can be a fun option to stay in the loop with a group of people like your family, coworkers, or book club. Try out a few different ways to message people outside of just sending a text or email. This will keep things interesting and you might just find a new favorite way of keeping in touch with your friends!

Always remember that there are plenty of resources to help you get more comfortable with virtual communication. Doing research online, calling a store sales associate, or calling a friend are great ways to get your questions answered and get more comfortable with virtual communication. 

 

Scheduling 

Just like in pre-quarantine life, it can be tricky to coordinate schedules. Even during quarantine people have busy lives! It can be nice to have a standing “communication appointment” with friends and family members to ensure you are making time for them. I’ve noticed that if I don’t make the effort to plan things it becomes easy to go for days or weeks without talking to the important people in my life. Setting a schedule helps you connect regularly and keeps your social life going. Just like making plans to meet up with friends, you should make plans to connect virtually.

 

Activities for Video Calls

Your first few video call experiences can be a little uncomfortable and seem unnatural. Getting used to the feel of a video call just takes a little practice! Something I have found helpful is to plan activities or “games” that can be done over video. This helps keep the atmosphere fun and gets the conversation flowing. 

 Here are some of my favorites: 

  • Heads up – This is a guessing game that involves giving players hints and clues to help them guess the right noun. You can play with the phone app that is available for smartphones or write your own cards! The game works best with three-five people. 
  • Catchphrase – We all know how exciting a good game of catchphrase can get! You can use an app (there are several options available for smartphones) or the actual game if you have it. Tip: when playing in teams, have the team that is not guessing mute their audio to help reduce unnecessary noise. 
  • Virtual Happy Hour – While this is not a game, it can be a fun way to feel like you are keeping up with your pre-quarantine social life. You can play around with “themes” and make fun cocktails and appetizers. This helps keep things interesting and adds a little more excitement to the call! 

 

Staying connected virtually can feel awkward at first and can be easy to push off. But making an effort to reach out to family and friends and setting aside the time to connect can be a huge help! Not only does staying connected give you something fun to do but it’s also an important part of keeping your mental health strong. So do a little research, try out a few methods of connecting, and you’ll be a pro at virtual communication in no time! 

Questions? Leave them in the comments and I will be happy to help! 

 

Resources: 

Staying Connected

https://www.umms.org/coronavirus/what-to-know/staying-in/staying-connected

Setting Up a Video Call

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/work-learning/technology-internet/video-calling/

Best Apps for Video Calling

https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/23/the-best-video-chat-apps-to-turn-social-distancing-into-distant-socializing/

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Author: Allison Burditt

With a background in Marketing and Communication from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, Allison provides reliable and relatable information on health and wellness topics.