Keeping Connected Through Tech While Social Distancing

Illustration by Drew Buchanan

Kayla Curtis-Evans
Staff Writer

COVID-19 has caused lots of uncertainty, but not all that has resulted from the virus has been bad. Social distancing has brought forth all kinds of new ways for students to keep in touch with loved ones, friends, families, and even teachers through technology. Family game nights have been elevated to virtual trivia, movie nights have been upgraded to shared-screen date nights, and workouts feel just as intense through group livestreams. 

It is important for students who are used to being on a lively campus and seeing their friends and acquaintances every day to try to keep in touch with those they care about. It is also important for people who may not be able to see their families during these times to stay connected. Here are ways of keeping connected in a time where social interactions are important for mental health and overall wellbeing.

1. Zoom

Zoom has become a very popular video chat application for those practicing social distancing. It is free and provides its users with unlimited call and chat features, which makes it accessible and efficient for group family calls, birthday celebrations, catching up with friends, and even classes. UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) students are very familiar with this because most live classes have been instructed through Zoom. The platform’s ability to host up to hundreds of people within just one call makes it seamless for hosting large classes or even game nights with multiple players. Even many UCSB advisors have gone remote, hosting advising sessions or academic assistance through Zoom. 

Zoom also allows a “share screen” feature, so fun games like “Jeopardy” or “Scattegories” are a great idea to keep connected while being entertained. This feature also makes for the perfect setup for a group movie night or a date night. You can connect with all of your friends, pick a movie, and relax from the comfort of your own homes while enjoying the same film. Aside from Zoom, many streaming services like HBO GO, Apple TV, and SHOWTIME are offering free trials for the time being and even some are granting full access to all of their shows and movies.

2. Multiplayer Games

Another amusing entertainment idea and a great way to keep connected through these turbulent times are multiplayer games, like the Apple app titled “Psych.” It allows players to join and play virtual games together from any location, even if all of the players are physically in different locations. The game rules are similar to “Cards Against Humanity,” so many quick rounds can be played over and over again. It makes for a convenient way to stay in touch with others who may not have access to video chats or a computer. 

3. Classes on Instagram and YouTube

If a more productive method of keeping connected while social distancing is what you are looking for, then Instagram and YouTube are the perfect places to look. Many well known fitness gurus or internationally known gyms, such as Barry’s Bootcamp, have offered free online live workout classes. These classes are streamed for 24 hours for the entire day, so if you are not a morning person then you can tune in even at night. This allows families or entire groups of friends to stay fit together virtually. Instagram TV also provides many live cooking classes and recipes that individuals can follow along to from their own kitchens at home. 

It can sometimes feel difficult to cure boredom or stay in touch with those you care about when social gatherings are discouraged, but these various forms of virtual activities are the best substitute for in-person interactions right now. Keeping connected through technology is not only assuring the safety of others, but it also allows us to find new ways to bond with our families or friends.