Now, more than ever, we’re eager to find ways to stay in touch with loved ones. You can see the possibilities of a massive family call on screen. But you know the limitations of your less tech savvy family members. Under normal circumstances, you would sit with your grandparents or older relatives in person for a tech tutorial. These days, making the switch all alone to new technology can be daunting and further those feelings of isolation.
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We’ve looked for solutions that work well for every member of your family. After a how-to lesson, in which you do a non-stressful virtual walkthrough, you can use these apps and devices to stay connected to those you love. Just try one app lesson at a time. Then email some directions, screenshots and photos of which buttons to press on a keyboard or screen so they’ll have a guide in case they forget. Here are 5 keep-in-touch solutions that are fun, easy to learn and use.
Host a Video Reunion
The energy, the laughs, the fun can all be experienced on a video call when multiple generations join each other online at the same time.
Apps like Zoom or Google Meet are free to use and can be downloaded to individual devices (smartphones, laptops, tablets, and desktop computers) so everyone can participate from the comfort of their own homes. They’re great for small or large virtual family gatherings.
Setting up a video reunion is as easy as selecting which platform to use, scheduling a video call for your designated time, and sending the link out so all family members can join. You can also set up recurring video call times for regular reunions with those you love. Don’t forget to explain how to turn on the camera and microphone!
Start a Family Group Chat
While it’s great to see everyone’s faces during scheduled video reunions, it’s also nice to keep in touch between those times. A group text with family members is one way to get a family chat going but free apps such as Marco Polo also help loved ones stay connected.
Marco Polo is a video chatting app that allows family members to keep up with conversations on their own time. Text messages and videos can be shared within a private family group where members can watch and respond whenever they’re free.
Spontaneous face-to-face conversations can happen through Marco Polo, and there’s no requirement for members to be logged on at the same time. Marco Polo is ideal for families with social media loving tweens and teens and older family members who want to stay connected via text and video chats.
Have a Virtual Story Time
There is no bad time to use technology to share a favorite story! Facetime, Zoom, Google Meet, Marco Polo, and other platforms can be used to connect a child with a loved one for a virtual story time. Encourage grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even older cousins to select a favorite book from their bookshelves and connect with kids through screens for a read aloud.
Younger kids will love having picture books read to them as they gaze at the screen to see the photos and older kids will listen attentively to chapter books as the voice comes through the speaker. Virtual story times are a great way to engage all family members who can help foster literacy, listening skills, a love of books, and connections from afar. Check out some of the story reading apps, too, like Caribu.
Create Content and Play Games Together
One of the difficulties of being apart is missing out on special moments and interactions as our younger kids grow and change. The JusTalk app engages younger kids in fun activities through video chats, and game apps encourage interactions.
The free JusTalk app allows users to make one-to-one video calls, even group calls with up to 50 members, and also provides the ability for kids to engage in drawing and games during the call. They can draw and share their doodles, stickers, and photos in real time or challenge loved ones to games while video chatting.
JusTalk also lets you preserve special interactions by recording and saving your video and voice call. Memorable moments will always be available in the Memories section of the app, making it fun for young parents and grandparents to look back on as kids grow.
Invest in Family Friendly Devices
Yes, there are simplified devices designed specifically for the tech averse. Portal from Facebook and GrandPad are two popular options.
Portal from Facebook is a smart video calling device with an easy to use interface. With a single tap, Portal can make calls through Messenger or WhatsApp and once you’re connected, the built-in Smart Camera follows every move. Unlike static cameras, it scans the room, adjusting to include family members all family members in the frame.
While you’re apart and not in a call, Portal works as a photo frame to display photos that are automatically pulled from your connected Facebook and Instagram accounts. It also shows you when loved ones are available to connect and provides birthday reminders, so you never forget a family member’s special day.
Designed with seniors in mind, GrandPad is a simplified tablet large buttons and comes loaded with essential apps, all with an intuitive interface that facilitates video chatting and sharing memories.
GrandPad is ready to use out of the box. The subscription comes with a private family network for family members to update phone numbers, change options, and create new contacts for users from a companion app or web portal. A white glove support team based in the United States provides peace of mind that grandparents can access tech support for help troubleshooting.
Time spent apart from loved ones physically does not need to feel isolating. We need to find ways reach out to each other in ways that make us comfortable and comforted. Technology is giving us all new ways to adapt and connect.