Connecting from a distance: How to stay in touch with loved ones during a global pandemic

 

Keeping socially distant is the new normal during the COVID-19 era, but that doesn't mean you have to miss quality time with your loved ones. Thankfully, there are many applications for your mobile device or computer that will allow you to make new memories together.

Jahmal Clemons, San Jacinto College manager of digital marketing, offers these social media suggestions for keeping in touch with loved ones:

  • FaceTime: This is one of the most accessible options because it comes built into the iPhone. First, make sure both parties have an Apple device (iPad, iPhone, or iMac), set a time, and be ready to spend time with loved ones doing your favorite two-person activity, be it a board game or a tour of your garden.
  • Messenger: Facebook's instant messaging service is a great way to connect with folks near and far. Messenger allows you to communicate through text, pictures, and videos. Users don't even need a Facebook account to use the app. You can also send money instantly, play virtual games, and request a ride through Uber or Lyft.     
  • Group Chats: Group messaging apps are easy text-based tools to stay in touch with several people at once. One challenge you may find is that different family members may have different phone carriers and messages aren't always received. Thankfully, free apps like GroupMe and WhatsApp make it easy for everyone to get together. Sharing pictures or recalling a shared family memory has never been easier.
  • Video Calling: Can't meet in person for the family reunion this year? Consider using a video conference app like Google Duo, Zoom, or HouseParty. Like the group chats, everyone must have the app and a device with a built-in camera. When it's time to meet, everyone will appear on the screen, Brady Bunch-style. This allows users to chat freely while seeing all of the other members.
  • Digital Music Services: Thanks to apps like Spotify and iTunes, it’s never been easier to experience music's power to connect us. Create a shared playlist and host a virtual dance party using one of the video apps above.   

There are many ways to connect virtually with friends and family during this uncertain time, and it doesn’t have to be intimidating to set up a service. Most of these options are free and user friendly, making it a snap to stay connected while staying socially distant.