How to stay connected with family and friends
In this brave new technological world you really are spoiled for choice for ways to stay in touch with family and friends. Not only are today’s communication devices a wonderful way to maintain contact with people no matter where you are, they’re a great way to overcome feelings of loneliness. And while some of this tech might seem a little intimidating at first glance, the truth is that it’s designed to be user-friendly for all of us, whatever our age.
Many of these technologies use the internet, which has opened up so many ways for everyone to exchange information, with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other means of instant communication to help make our lives easier during this difficult time.
There are also ways to make video calls where you’re able to see who you’re talking to. Again, the technology is easy to use; there’s hardly more to it than picking up the phone, which is why it’s become so popular.
If you’re still a bit overwhelmed by the thought of getting to grips with this technological wizardry, we’ve got a few suggestions to help you get started. And don’t worry – family and friends will probably be only too willing to help you get familiarised.
Skype is a free to use application that you can access online through the Skype website or as an app on your computer, smartphone or tablet. With it, you can send instant messages or have high definition video or voice calls with others via an internet connection. It’s also one of the best tools for overseas conversations and video calls.
Over 24% of the UK’s population was using Skype in some form in 2017 and that number is rising steadily all the time.
All you need to use it another person with a Skype account, and then you can add them as a contact and get in touch. You can even record and save your favourite chats and messaging conversations.
Facebook has its own built-in instant messaging service called ‘Messenger’, often as a separate application to the Facebook app you might have downloaded to your laptop, smartphone or tablet. You don’t need to be active on Facebook to use Messenger, though you will be able to communicate with everyone on Facebook.
Messenger allows you to send messages to your Facebook contacts, but you can also make voice and video calls with Messenger is you have a reliable internet connection. Messenger lets you set up group chats with more than one person, so you can talk to lots of family or friends at once.
Facebook’s UK users over the age of 45 has increased by 600,000 over the last few years, and Facebook Messenger is the second most used messenger app, with 1.3 billion recognised users in 2018.
Virtual assistants are devices like Amazon’s Echo and Alexa, or Siri on Apple devices. They work using voice commands and are designed to make communication much quicker and more accessible.
If you connect your family and friends’ contact numbers to the accounts you have on these devices, you can then just ask the devices to call them or send them messages. It’s hands free and all done by voice. How simple is that?
You can find out more about how these work with this handy guide.
Whatsapp is also part of Facebook and is the world’s most popular messaging app, with more than 1.5 billion recognised global users in 2018. It lets you send instant messages, images, videos and make voice and video calls, and set up group chats, and gives you a straightforward way to catch up with family and friends – ideal if you struggle a little with tech.
Similar to Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp is free and can be used on laptops, smartphones and tablets. Its other plus is that you can simply and easily access your favourite groups through your phone’s home screen.
FaceTime is a popular means of communicating through apple devices. It’s easy to use and you can quickly chat to any of your phone contacts if they also have an Apple device (iPhone, Mac or iPad).
‘FaceTime group calls’ can be used to video chat with more than one person at the same time. Find out more about it in this useful tech guide from Gadget Hacks.