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Staying Social: How to Keep in Touch During Lockdown

April 6, 2020

Without daily distractions, lockdown poses a grave concern. As naturally social creatures, we crave the company of others to keep us happy and productive. So, how can we maintain social interaction within the same four walls each day?

Enter: technology

Ask any digital marketer and you’ll see the recent stats for online activity are astronomical. Facebook group calls have risen by 1,000 per cent. Online streaming is up by 97 per cent. Houseparty recorded 2 million downloads in a week, making it the number one app in the UK.

Now that we’re all online more, how can we use these technologies to stay in touch? Whatever your age or your device preference, SONA has got you covered.

For simplicity

These apps are more or less available to all demographics and device users. They’re very likely already installed on your smartphone or tablet, so there’s no time wasted faffing with sign-ups. For iPhone or iPad users, Facetime allows video calls with sound. All it needs is an internet connection – simply hold your device in front of your face and you’re away. No mic set up. No camera faffing. Simple!

Likewise, Whatsapp calls are easy. The good news is they’re available to all smartphone users, Apple or not. They can be audio only (great for if you’ve run out of call minutes) or video. Whatsapp is a universal way to keep in touch. You can even use Whatsapp Web if you’re working at a computer – not more stopping to touch a phone every two minutes!

For social media lovers

Boredom got you creating more content? The proof is in the pudding – TikTok downloads have skyrocketed to 2 billion! The video-creation app allows you to make ‘micro content’ or videos of up to 15 seconds. You can communicate with one another over private text messaging to respond to these videos.

The same goes for Instagram. Users can send ‘quick replies’ with emojis in response to stories, or communicate over messenger with text and voice clips.

Facebook is a little more advanced. Individuals and groups can hold voice calls over Messenger, which has proven instrumental for remote workers.

For gamers

Need a little more than just back and forth? Combine your video chats with games. Houseparty is popular for a reason – it allows up to eight people to enjoy video calls, as well as games like Pictionary. 

If you’re a keen video gamer, try Discord. It works with headsets such as those you might find on a console, and allows communication over text, image, video and audio. You can chat as you play. A similar model is Netflix Party – it’s not strictly for gamers, but it allows users to stream content at the same time and chat over a message box positioned alongside.

For older tech users

One of the biggest concerns during this crisis is reaching out to older people. While the BBC reports that some elderly citizens prefer handheld devices, for example with Facetime, others suggest they prefer a mouse and a trackpad. This is great for cross-device apps like Facetime or Skype.

Alternatively, there is specially designed tech for older people. Amazon Echo allows voice calls, or ‘drop-ins’ where the call is initiated without another using having to answer. Oscar Senior is a favourite among caregivers and works with smart devices. It allows video calls and can also alert caregivers if there is an emergency.

For remote workers

Last but by no means least, many of us are now adapting to working from home. Zoom works as both a mobile app and desktop app, with up to 100 users at any one time! The limit for free calls is 40 minutes, but you can always re-join the call.

Skype is an old favourite, used for audio and video calls on desktop and mobile. It also has a text chat system to send messages, files and emojis. For Google users, Google Hangouts has a similar chat interface to Whatsapp, allowing text, images and audio files to be sent. You can also have free video calls with up to 150 people – but you’ll all need to have Google logins first.

Which app is right for me?

The common theme here is that you’ll need a reasonably up-to-date device and an internet connection. If you’re concerned about elderly relatives, contact a charity such as Age UK to discuss installation.

You’ll likely use many of these apps depending on the purpose – for example, leisure downtime or work calls. Mix them up and keep an eye on any limits like call times. You’ll soon find your best audience with each app!

Stay in touch

If you’re having trouble using any smart home technology, contact the SONA team today.