I never imagined a time like this, where I would have to remind my children of “social distancing” before going on a walk in our neighborhood. As time progresses and the pandemic continues to become more of a problem in our nation, we find ourselves isolated from people. Or, I find that we are missing those we barely saw.
We miss people. All the people.
Both my kids are very social and are missing friends, so I wanted to provide ways we (or others we know!) have helped our kids stay connected with their community.
1. Kids Messenger via Facebook
I’m pretty strict when it comes to my elementary age kids connecting to anything with the internet, so this was a new adventure for us!
Once you set up the account through the app, the parent can control who the child connects with. Kids can connect via messenger or video chats. They can send silly photos with stickers on it as well. We recently connected to one of my daughter’s dance friends because her Mom and I are friends on Facebook. It was fun to overhear the girls giggling on a brief video chat. Plus, it may be new to your child, and it makes it even more fun!
Below is a photo of my son playing Minecraft with a friend through video on Facebook Kids Messenger!
If you haven’t yet been to a Zoom meeting, I’m sure your time will be coming soon. Many businesses are using this model to continue work while their employees are at home. Others have used it to maintain their extra-curricular activities such as music classes, dance, drama, or even karate! Also, we know a few teachers who have (or will be soon!) connected with their students using this. It’s an excellent method to have multiple people on video and audio at the same time.
A Zoom account is free. You can create an account, create a meeting, and invite friends! With the free account, you can only have a 40-minute meeting – anything longer than this will have to be a paid account. Schedule a Zoom playdate today!
3. FaceTime / iMessenger
As a family with iPads and iPhones, we have used FaceTime over the years with family that is far away; however, we are using it more than ever to even connect with my parents who live 20 minutes away! Create a group chat with friends/family, open your group text by clicking where the faces are, and hit FaceTime. You can add up to 32 participants, but they all must have an iOS device.
Again, for iOS users only. My kids are connected can text or FaceTime their grandparents whenever they want. For me, this has become a digital babysitter. I have said, “Why don’t you go text grandpa and see what he is up to?” It also helps kids with writing and appropriate ways to text. We’ve had a few conversations about how clicking the predictive text over and over to make a sentence is not appropriate. Or 100s of emojis are not enjoyable for the person receiving the message.
4. School Email
If you have a school-aged child, then they have access to their school email addresses and they can email their teachers and or other classmates. Additionally, you could send them emails from your computer. A fun way to stay quietly connected during the workday! It’s also a great way to teach students how to write an appropriate email. Remind students that everything they send can be seen, so appropriate email behavior is required.
Hang in there!
We know it’s a difficult time and very isolating for both our kids and us. We hope some of these apps will help you stay a little more connected!