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These Are The Best Ways To Stay In Touch While Social Distancing

virtual hangout

Even though we’re physically separated from each other right now due to social distancing efforts, that doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected! In fact, our social support systems are actually crucial to our overall wellbeing, especially during trying times like these!

In today’s post, I’ll be sharing some ways we can all connect with our friends and family via virtual visits, rather than in-person ones. We’ll start by exploring 6 different options for virtual meetups and hangouts, then I have a few ideas to share that will make your virtual get-togethers even more fun!

(And don’t forget about the OGT Inner Circle, which is a great place to connect with fellow OGT readers! In case you missed it, you can learn more about joining us in the Inner Circle in my announcement about OGT Free!)

6 Ways To Stay In Touch With Loved Ones While Social Distancing

virtual hangout

1. FaceTime

If both parties have an Apple device, you can use FaceTime to video chat. You can do it one-on-one, or you can use Group FaceTime with up to 32 people at once! (Learn more about Group FaceTime here.)

If you’re using an iPhone or iPad to FaceTime, you’ll probably want to prop it up against something so you don’t have to hold the device in front of you the whole time.

virtual hangout

2. Google Duo

For Android users, the Google Duo app is essentially the Android equivalent of FaceTime. It’s free to download on both Google Play and the Apple App Store, so it’s a great option for video chatting with a mixed group of iPhone and Android users.

virtual hangout

3. Google Hangouts

If you have a Gmail account, you already have access to messaging, phone calls, and video calls through Google Hangouts! Just click “Start a new hangout” to start a chat, then invite others by entering their Gmail addresses or sending them a link.

Using Google Hangouts, you can video chat with up to 25 people, while voice-only chats can accommodate up to 150 people!

virtual hangout

4. Zoom

Zoom has become the video call platform of choice for many during the COVID-19 outbreak. By signing up for Zoom’s Free plan, you can host unlimited video chats with up to 100 participants each, but each meeting will have a 40-minute limit.

If the host has a Zoom Pro plan ($14.99/month), the time limit is extended to 24 hours, so you don’t have to worry about cutting things short!

virtual hangout

5. Marco Polo

For a slightly less traditional form of video chatting, check out the Marco Polo app! With this platform, you send short video messages to one or more people instead of meeting at the same time. It’s a fun and easy way to check in throughout the day without the pressure and scheduling issues of a live video chat.

Our family uses Marco Polo and we love it! We have a group set up with me, Dave, and all the kids, and it makes it so easy to send little video updates to each other throughout the day.

virtual hangout

6. Phone Calls

And finally, especially if technology isn’t your strongest suit, there’s nothing wrong with a good old fashioned phone call! It’s a safe and reliable option for catching up with Grandma, and hearing someone’s voice is better than nothing!

Spice Up Your Virtual Visits!

  • People all over the world are finding fun and creative ways to turn their virtual visits into a memory-making occasion! Here a few ideas I’ve come across that you can use to take your virtual visits to the next level:
  • Have Dinner Together. If you’re missing being able to have dinner together as a family, host a virtual dinner party! Set up a video chat during dinner time, and don’t forget to share a toast!
  • Watch Netflix Together. Host a watch party of your favorite show or movie on Netflix with the Netflix Party extension on Google Chrome! The OGT Team recently used this extension to watch The Office together, and we had a blast using the chat feature to talk about the episode.
  • Host A Game Night. If you’re willing to get a little creative, you can even play a game with your loved ones over video chat! Simple games like Bingo, Scattergories, etc. will work best, but you could even play something like Monopoly if everyone has a copy at home.
  • Virtual Book Club. If you have some bookworms in your social circle, set up a virtual book club! It can be as easy as picking a book and agreeing on a time and date for your virtual book club meeting.
  • Visit A Museum. Thanks to Google Arts & Culture, you can stay at home and visit a world-class museum at the same time! Set up a video chat with friends or family, then pick a museum to explore virtually together!
virtual hangout

How are you staying in touch with family and friends?


Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • I Zoomed for the first time a couple of weeks ago and had never used any of these before as I tend to be “analog” in my tech skills. My husband and I did a chat with my family on Easter Sunday since we couldn’t all be together, and I joked about bringing our dinners to the screen to eat together, not realizing people actually do that(??). The game idea is a good one; my in-laws and we both have the game Wingspan so playing this virtually might be something to try.

    One question…we were limited to 40 minutes during our Zoom meeting (although we were somehow able to get another 20) and I don’t imagine other types of video calls could go on indefinitely, especially with so many people around the country (and world) relying on this type of communication. Would elongated meetings involving a game or movie really be feasible?

    • I’ve used Zoom for many meetings.
      Our book club first met on a free account. After we were kicked off the meeting host immediately set up a new meeting and emailed out the invitation. We had a 5 or 10 minute break and came right back to the discussion.
      Also, only the host needs a paid account to have longer than 40 minutes.

  • I have a 90 year old friend in a nursing home. No one can visit- no family or friends. I write her a letter every day & mail to her. I am self quarantined at home myself but try to share past memories with her as well as anything that might brighten her day! Sometimes silly or funny- often inspiring- hopefully uplifting- anything to show her she is not forgotten!

  • I became a first time gramma in October and he just turned 6 months old. Of course he is at the stage where much change is occurring and of course we haven’t been able to see each other. Haven’t seen my grandson since February. My son, daughter-in-law, grandson, my husband and myself video chat often on WhatsApp. It is free and works great. Don’t know what we would do without these programs. Sure hope this is over soon but of course we can’t rush this as safety is key. Hope everyone is safe and healthy.
    Karen

  • I just started doing little watercolor paintings and mailing them with little notes to my friends to let them know I’m thinking of them. We also talk on the phone and we’ve had a couple of zoom parties.

  • I live in the Republic of Panamá and 99% of people here use Whatsapp. You can talk, use the video, or send messages and it’s all free as long as you have wi-fi. You can also create groups withing Whatsapp; for example when the Corona virus restrictions came into effect I created a group within Whatsapp of our friends here, so that we could check on each other and help each other all in one place instead of sending messages to each individual. Mostly expats. We have very few friends in the U.S. who use Whatsapp, but I’m hoping that it will grow in popularity soon.

  • Whatsap is our family’s favorite app for keeping in touch, though we also use zoom. We play games from jackbox.tv together on zoom once a week. Our favorite, Drawful, is a game even our 8-10 year old grandkids like (set it for family friendliness.) We’ve also tried board game arena, and last week played 7 Wonders together on that one. I’m in Canada, but these should also be available in the US.
    BTW, zoom is waiving many of their limitations on the free accounts right now.

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