In the age of the Coronavirus pandemic, staying social with friends and acquaintances has become a struggle for many people. The virus is spread easily through prolonged periods of close contact with an infected individual. As a result, social distancing has become the most popular method to avoid transmission of COVID-19. As it says in the name, social distancing has resulted in prolonged periods of non-contact with friends and family. However, there are safe ways that people can stay connected and develop closer relationships while maintaining the physical distance that is required.
Because teenagers are strongly discouraged from meeting in person with their friends right now, many websites have emerged as substitutes for this in-person communication, with Facetime, Zoom, WebEx, Discord, and Microsoft Teams as some of the most popular. Friends can communicate in a group setting just as they would in person, recreating the same vibe of a group hangout at a friend’s house. Students, no matter their Cohort assignment, can still feel connected to their friends, despite not seeing them at school. They can chat, do schoolwork, or even play games.
For people who are not interested in simply talking with their friends, many new services have developed to allow groups of people to watch movies and shows together. One of the most popular based around the streaming service, Netflix. The website, called Netflix Party, allows multiple people to watch a show or movie on Netflix at the same time. The shows can still be controlled normally, with pausing, fast forwarding, and rewinding all possible. Students can even chat through a feature that is built into the website. Netflix Party can be downloaded through Google Chrome as an extension. Just click the ‘NP” extension whenever you open the Netflix website to get started.
Other streaming services have created their own versions of Netflix Party, notably Hulu’s “Hulu Watch Party” and even Amazon’s “Prime Video Watch Party”. There’s also the extension Metastream that allows access to multiple streaming apps. These group watch apps are all free (with a subscription to the particular service) and easy to use.
Staying social and connecting with friends during stressful and uncertain times can lighten a person’s mood and help them push through the various struggles encountered on a daily basis. Through the latest developments in technology, people can stay in contact with friends while keeping themselves and their families safe. Even if you aren’t in the mood to talk with a friend over voice/video chat, texting and Snapchat allow you to stay connected. Almost anything is possible virtually. Take advantage of these services, check in with your friends and stay connected– for their benefit, and your own.