The onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic has created changes and challenges in the way we conduct our normal daily activities. While we used to enjoy taking a break from the busy world outside of our homes, we are now being asked to make that break our new reality by staying inside and practicing social distancing measures in order to do our part to flatten the curve and stop the spread of this virus. While the importance of this effort cannot be argued, it is recommended that we seek out alternative methods of social interaction to stay connected with our friends, family and community.
To accommodate our need for social interaction, social media has come to our rescue. With multiple platforms providing video conferencing, we are able to virtually participate in social events, such as birthday celebrations and dinner parties, and coordinate fun game nights with our friends and family all over the world. Just knowing that we have quality social and emotional support through these times can help us to maintain our mental health and shine some light on what could otherwise be a lonely couple of months.
Whether you need it for work or family socializing purposes, here are some video conferencing platforms that you can take advantage of while doing your part to stay inside and limit your physical interactions.
This video chat is available on many different Apple devices, such as iPhones, iPads, Macbooks. FaceTime is free of charge, only requiring an Apple ID and a connection to Wi-Fi or Data. When using group FaceTime, you can easily add up to 32 people to your call, allowing ease of access when it comes to chatting it up with everyone in your family!
Houseparty is a super fun and free social networking platform that allows for group video chatting with up to 8 people. What makes this service different is that it also allows participants to play games and trivia using their mobile and desktop apps, with no in-app purchases or associated costs!
Facebook Messenger is a messaging app connected to users' Facebook accounts. This app allows users to message, call, and video chat with their “friends” on Facebook. By allowing 50 participants on a video call, you could easily be the host of a virtual party with all of your favourite people in attendance.
This messaging platform allows people to connect with friends and family all over the world who also use the app. While its capabilities for exchanging texts, voice messages, and sending pictures are commonly used, WhatsApp also allows users to make voice and video calls as well. By simply downloading the app, you can easily create an account and utilize the platform to organize video calling with up to 16 people at the same time.
Zoom is a conferencing service that provides audio and video conferencing for online meetings at no charge for up to 40 minutes with anywhere from 3 to 100 participants. Upgrading your membership can cost between $20-$30 a month depending on the plan you choose and can host from 300-500 people. This app is great for businesses to stay connected with their employees working from home.
Google Hangouts is a video conferencing app that operates through users' Gmail accounts. Video calls are free depending on the plan you have subscribed to, and can accommodate from 10 participants for Gmail and G Suite Basic users and 25 people for Business or Education plans.
Skype is a well-known app for video chat and voice calls between computers, mobile devices, Xbox, and smartwatches. Calls are of no charge when all participants are using Skype, and when connected to WiFi. Skype can accommodate up to 50 video calls participants at a time, allowing you to host the biggest dinner party you have ever had, without slaving over the oven for two days.