|Keeping in Touch with Friends Remotely
As everyone becomes accustomed to staying at home, keeping in touch with friends and family is more important than ever. While handshakes are well-and-truly out of fashion and hugs are reserved to members of your family unit, there are lots of digital tools that help us to stay connected and keep in touch despite iso-life. From Facebook and Twitter to Skype and Webex, digital tools help us to work, play, and communicate easier than ever before.
While remote digital connectivity may not
feel as warm as a heartfelt hug or a shared meal, these tools work and are
available to use right now. Before you decide on which tools to use, however,
it's important to be aware of the strengths and limitations of each software
platform. If you just want to view messages, photos, and videos without
real-time interaction, social media tools like Facebook and Twitter are a great
way to stay connected with your community.
If you're looking for a deeper connection,
video calls and conferencing tools are a great way to get up-close-and-personal.
If you own a smartphone or tablet, you probably already have the software
required to get started. FaceTime offers tight integration with the iPhone and
other Apple products, with a single tap of the screen all that's needed to turn
a voice call into a video chat.
Other solutions require downloading an app,
with Android devices working great with Google Duo, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, and
numerous other services.
If you want to work remotely rather than
chat, you may want to try a more professional platform. While many standard
apps also include conference call capabilities, some services offer greater
reliability, more efficient group messaging, and work sharing solutions across
devices and operating systems. Cisco's Webex is available for free, with
additional capabilities available during coronavirus. Microsoft's Teams
collaboration platform has also been made be available free for the next six
months, with Google Hangouts Meet and Intermedia AnyMeeting also offering free
services to help meet the global work-from-home demand.
Whether you want to talk to your grandma or
connect with work colleagues, privacy and security are both important issues
that need to be addressed. For example, while Facetime and Webex are known for
being both private and secure, Skype and Zoom do not have the same reputation.
While most tools are fairly safe for everyday conversations, if you're dealing
with important data or sensitive messages, researching the right tools may
require a little extra diligence.
Video calls and social media can ease the
pain of social isolation for all age groups, from young digital natives through
to older generations. As the most vulnerable group to coronavirus, older adults
may need to engage in physical isolation and rely on digital tools for longer
than the general population. Regardless of your age or location, however, video
chat technology can help to lower the risks of depression, promote a sense of
connection, and support important existing relationships.