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Digital Tools to Stay Social

It’s hard being responsible and self-isolating and having a social life—all of us are feeling that. Just because you’re doing your part to stop the spread of COVID-19, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. We’ve compiled a list of ways for you to connect with people from a distance. Here are some ideas, from virtual movie nights to Facetime and gaming, to keep you social. And all of these tools, except one, are totally free!

Watch Netflix together, apart

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could have a movie night with friends and family while still practicing social distancing? You can! Netflix Party is an extension for your browser that works with Netflix so you can instant message with your viewing party live, while a movie is playing. You can share gifs, emojis, and screenshots from the movie with an unlimited number of people in your group chat.

Play party games with your friends

Jackbox Games has been around for a while, but now is a great time to get into the experience if you haven’t already. Jackbox Games offers six completely unique “party packs” to download. If you don’t regularly play games and aren’t the owner of a gaming console, you can still buy and play the game from other streaming services like Apple TV, Amazon Fire, the Mac App Store, and Android TV (all of the games are currently on sale). After it’s downloaded, all you have to do is go to on your phone or tablet and type in the game’s code. You and your friends can connect and play games from anywhere in the world. You can even livestream your game and have complete strangers join, but be wary of trolls.

Find or create a Discord

If you’re a gamer, you’ve probably come into contact with this powerhouse of a community app. Discord is an all-in-one connectivity tool for those wanting to chat with a large community. However, it does work with smaller groups too. The app’s creators recently bumped video chat capacity up to 50 people to help during this period of isolation. The tool includes video, voice, and messaging for as many different groups as you’d like to connect with. Lots of content creators and communities have their own public Discords to join too, so you can easily find a group of like-minded people.

Video chat while playing games

Houseparty is an app that you can download to your phone and chat with up to eight people via video. What’s fun and different about the Houseparty app is that you can play games right from your screen with the other members of your chat. Popular games like Heads Up, trivia, and quick draw are just a tap away on your screen and are instantly synced with all the members of your party.

Upgrade your video conferencing game

You’ve likely been using Zoom and other video conferencing apps recently, but if you’re looking to spice up a casual meeting or video hangout with your friends, you can download Snap Camera. Using the same filters as Snapchat, this app works with any video chatting service, like Zoom, to add overlays and backgrounds to your conversations. It simply connects to your computer camera or webcam and allows you to choose from an array of fun settings and faces, like a potato, googly eyes, or even a llama.