For many older adults whose family seems to get geographically scattered, digital tools are invaluable ways to connect. Not just to connect one-on-one, but to connect with whole groups of family or friends. There are many ways that digital connections can enhance your relationship with loved ones who are far away. But you’ll get a different experience depending on which platform you use. If you’ve only considered using Facebook, you’re missing out! Here are five options, and the kind of human connection you can get through each.
Discord is a text and video platform that is most popular with those who use it to co-ordinate and share online gaming. However, you can use it for any kind of social interaction, not just gaming! You can create various servers on Discord, which is useful for keeping up with multiple groups of people.
Within your Discord server, you can create multiple channels for people to use. They can be chat or video channels. For example, a family with several members that are into cooking can create a text channel just for sharing recipes. That way, the rest of the family isn’t annoyed by the recipe sharing, and you can quickly scroll through to find what you’re looking for.
Discord also allows for video chats and streaming. If you can play a movie on your computer, you can stream it through Discord and watch it with your loved ones!
Slack is a little less functional than Discord, but it is easier for those of us who are less technologically savvy to learn. It is the perfect place to have low-pressure text conversations, where there’s no need for everyone to jump in on a group conversation. Instead, you can just respond to the message with emoji reactions, much like on Facebook or Discord. You can also be more direct when you want to, with the program’s direct conversations.
As with the other options we’ve covered so far, Zoom has a free basic account and is simple to use. In response to COVID-19 quarantines, Zoom lifted their 40-minute limit on video calls for free accounts, so you can talk with your loved ones for longer. You can play games over Zoom too, so you and your family or friends can try online games such as Jack Box Games, Scribblio, and even real-world board games like Pictionary.
4. My Heritage
My Heritage takes a unique approach to connecting families. It is part social media platform, part genealogical research tool. It helps people discover and keep in touch with each branch of their family tree. It can be a great way for older members of the family to share the larger family picture with younger people. It also helps you to organize family get-togethers, even if you’ll be holding them virtually.
5. Microsoft Teams
Do you and your friends and family like to share photos and documents? Microsoft Teams might just be the best way for you to connect with simple text-based messages that can be used in groups or between individuals. It also allows you to create a Wiki, which could be great to keep a list of your favorite hang-out spots or organize group trips.
There are more ways to digitally connect with loved ones than ever before! Don’t be afraid to experiment with new platforms and see which suits your group dynamic best.