We’re spending more time at home and more time with our families at home. But what about those family members who are unable to physically be with us? What about older parents whose children have all flown the nest?
Local, provincial, and federal governments are calling for all of us to do our part in slowing the spread (flattening the curve) of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The call is for everyone to self-isolate or quarantine themselves if necessary, to maintain distance from one another, and to stay home – avoiding all non-essential travel.
Here are our top tips and tricks as well as our recommended platforms for connecting with loved ones over the internet.
Tips and Tricks
Use a smart phone with a forward and backwards facing camera as opposed to a laptop/computer with a webcam.
- This gives you more flexibility with adjusting to lighting, home environment (switching between rooms), and it adds mobility to the experience if you want to show people what you’re up to or give them a grand tour of the latest changes in the home.
- This is also great for the kids because you can bring the camera to focus on their speaking as opposed to making them crowd around the computer.
Make sure you have all the necessary apps or permissions (microphone/video) set in advance of the call.
- This avoids any last-minute technical mishaps or mayhem.
Set up a stand for your device.
- While using the smart phone does give you the option to move around, you’ll also want to stay put without using your hands or tiring out your arms. I use the built-in stand that comes with my phone and tablet case, but pop-sockets also work great. If this is unavailable, there’s always the “balance-against-a-stack-of-books-trick.”
All these platforms are free and available across all devices and operating systems (phone/tablet/computer/iOS/Mac/Windows/Android). They are similar in terms of reliability, ease-of-use, and accessibility. They’re in no order – yet, comment below with your own preferences and we can establish a ranking by our audience.
Unlimited audio and video calls over the internet. All users need to set up a WhatsApp account (sign in with Google/Facebook available). Can be integrated with Google or Amazon home devices.Go to WhatsApp
Free for 40-minute meetings with up to 100 people (maybe you can get a group together that big? I don’t know…). Join via a link created when you set up a meeting (I usually send the link to people via email). Most reliable platform for larger groups.Go to Zoom
Unlimited audio and video calls. Join via invite (email, text message) or link. Easiest to use if you have a google account. Can be integrated with Google home devices.Go to Google Hangouts
Unlimited audio and video calls. All users need to have a Facebook or Facebook Messenger account. Works well if you have a Facebook Portal device.Go to Facebook
Unlimited audio and video calling using internet connection. All users need to set up a skype account (you already have one if you have a Microsoft account – you can sign in to Skype using the same credentials). Integrates with Amazon home devices and Xbox game console.Go to Skype