While remote digital connectivity may not feel as warm as a heartfelt hug or a shared meal, these tools work and are available to use right now. Before you decide on which tools to use, however, it's important to be aware of the strengths and limitations of each software platform. If you just want to view messages, photos, and videos without real-time interaction, social media tools like Facebook and Twitter are a great way to stay connected with your community.
If you're looking for a deeper connection, video calls and conferencing tools are a great way to get up-close-and-personal. If you own a smartphone or tablet, you probably already have the software required to get started. FaceTime offers tight integration with the iPhone and other Apple products, with a single tap of the screen all that's needed to turn a voice call into a video chat.
Other solutions require downloading an app, with Android devices working great with Google Duo, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, and numerous other services.
If you want to work remotely rather than chat, you may want to try a more professional platform. While many standard apps also include conference call capabilities, some services offer greater reliability, more efficient group messaging, and work sharing solutions across devices and operating systems. Cisco's Webex is available for free, with additional capabilities available during coronavirus. Microsoft's Teams collaboration platform has also been made be available free for the next six months, with Google Hangouts Meet and Intermedia AnyMeeting also offering free services to help meet the global work-from-home demand. ;
Whether you want to talk to your grandma or connect with work colleagues, privacy and security are both important issues that need to be addressed. For example, while Facetime and Webex are known for being both private and secure, Skype and Zoom do not have the same reputation. While most tools are fairly safe for everyday conversations, if you're dealing with important data or sensitive messages, researching the right tools may require a little extra diligence.
Video calls and social media can ease the pain of social isolation for all age groups, from young digital natives through to older generations. As the most vulnerable group to coronavirus, older adults may need to engage in physical isolation and rely on digital tools for longer than the general population. Regardless of your age or location, however, video chat technology can help to lower the risks of depression, promote a sense of connection, and support important existing relationships.