Social distancing certainly hasn’t been an easy process. Yet, the implementation of social distancing has been necessary in order to slow and ultimately stop the spread of COVID-19. While this has been a frustrating time for most people, fortunately, technology has been there to pick up the pieces, providing ways to connect, entertain, and more. And people are getting creative. Here are several ways that people are using technology to lift their spirits, communicate, and overall, have fun.
Unless you’ve been somehow totally disconnected from the world around you, you’ve likely heard the word “Zoom” a lot more frequently the past few months. After all, walks with friends used to be commonplace. It’s only natural that communication platforms like Skype, Zoom and for businesses, Microsoft Teams, have stepped up to the plate to fill the void left by a lack of in-person contact. But don’t expect a Zoom call to run like a business meeting. People are using the platform to hold casual conversations, visit with friends and family, have parties and even replace in-person Happy Hours.
Virtual platforms are even encouraging people to go outside. This past weekend, on May 2nd, the Boy Scouts of America held a National Camp-In. Either in the backyard or in the living room, families across the country joined live on Facebook for a day of virtual adventures, including camp-style cooking, competitions, and campfire singalongs.
This National Camp-In was free and open to all families – including families whose children are not currently in Scouting, further bringing people together amidst this time of social distancing.
Photo by visuals on Unsplash
Streaming content has been around for a while now. Now, it seems like platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are a must to fight the quarantine blues. And people don’t have to watch content by themselves. For instance, free Chrome extension Netflix Party allows users to watch the same content from different computers, allowing for long distance virtual movie nights and TV watch parties. People are getting creative with their Netflix parties too, customizing their user names and icons through the use of fun images and GIFs. The chatroom feature allows people to keep up lively banter throughout the movie or television show without interrupting those who are trying to pay attention.
Even without the use of Netflix Parties, social media platforms such as Twitter have hosted virtual movie nights. Called “Twitter Watch Parties,” these informal events involves a shared start time and hashtag so fans can tune in and join the conversation. These events have proven to be great at encouraging people to interact with others and even make new friends along the way.
Movie companies are also providing an alternative to the fact that movie theaters have closed for the time being. For example, in March, Universal offered a series of Twitter Watch Parties to excite audiences about titles that saw theatrical runs cut short by theater closures. As The Invisible Man and The Hunt debuted on website PVOD, directors Leigh Whannell and Craig Zobel hosted Twitter Watch Parties, which pushed #TheInvisibleManAtHome and #TheHuntAtHome into Twitter’s trending topics, spreading the word about the films’ digital debuts.
Youtube is also getting in on the fun by launching its #StayHome campaign, which encourages people to avoid going outside and instead, learn a new skill or watch a live concert. The homepage displays different categories of activities, with videos centered on mental health and wellness, cooking, exercise and much more. With a seemingly endless number of choices, you can find almost anything to occupy an afternoon.
Photo by Campaign Creators
People are also making virtual visits to their local libraries more often. In Santa Clara County, California, its library is offering up an entirely virtual branch of its services, allowing patrons to rent e-books, look up articles, or visit the Teen and Child Online Centers. Even more accessible, PBS Teaching Materials is offering parents resources to educate their children during their time away from school. Kids don’t even have to miss out on going to the zoo – now, they can visit their favorite animals via live cam at the San Diego Zoo and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Speaking of virtual tours, they aren’t just limited to the United States. People can take a virtual tour of the Louvre, in Paris, where they can view exhibits like “The Body in Movement” and “Founding Myths: From Hercules to Darth Vader.” Art lovers can also browse the Detroit Institute of Arts’ online exhibitions, where roughly 60,000 records are on display.
And for those who are itching to get outdoors, several famous parks are offering virtual tours. Yellowstone National Park is currently offering virtual tours of some of its attractions, including Canary Spring, the Upper Falls, and Dragon’s Mouth Spring. For those feeling a little more tropical, two-thirds of the island of St. John in the Virgin Islands is a national park. Virgin Islands National Park features beautiful sandy beaches and palms, as well as a fascinating marine life in underwater coral reefs. But the park boasts more than just beautiful beaches – ancient petroglyphs, carved by the Taino Indians, can be spotted along the Reef Bay Trail. Further, ruins of old plantation speak to the history of when the sugar industry directed life on the island.
People can even visit national landmarks, viewing live cams of the National Mall and the Statue of Liberty. For a full list of places to visit, click this link.
One positive side effect of COVID-19 is the fact that many people have a lot more free time. With that in mind, many people are using this pandemic to become more skilled in a hobby or another skillset – and companies are paying attention. For instance, educational organizations like Khan Academy and Udacity, are currently offering free courses that allow people to learn about AI, programming languages, and other subjects like web development. Udacity notes that these types of programs can be helpful to people who suddenly find themselves without a career and who need to consider growing their skillset to remain competitive amidst the pandemic.
While COVID-19 has been a chance for many to catch up on rest and enjoy time to lounge that would normally be taken up with a workday commute, for others, the extra time is proving fruitful in the quest for fitness. Well-known fitness chain Planet Fitness is offering free “home work-ins,” which are streamed daily on their Facebook page. This way, people can still reap the motivational benefits of a group class while staying safe indoors.
For those working out at home, they can use their smart watches or apps like My Fitness Pal to count their steps while keeping a safe six feet away from other walkers and joggers.
Just like you, at Stefanini, we are utilizing technology to stay entertained and connected. Is your business looking for ways to stay connected during these trying times? Our W@H Suite has you covered. Visit this page to see all the ways we are responding to the coronavirus.
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