It’s hard to feel connected to family and friends when you can’t be together. Talking on the phone, sending emails and commenting on each other’s Facebook posts just aren’t the same as seeing someone’s face and sharing activities together.
Fortunately, with a little creativity and the help of modern technology you can ﬁnd a way to feel more together—even when you’re physically far apart.
Leverage tools that help you connect
With 21st-century technology, you can now video-chat with loved ones instead of simply calling them. This allows you to see their faces, watch them smile and engage in some fun shared activities, even if you’re many miles apart. All that’s needed are a few simple tools:
- A device with a screen and camera. This could be a laptop, smartphone or tablet. Or it could be a desktop computer that you enhance with a webcam.
- A way to send and receive data. This could be through the data plan associated with a digital device (like a smartphone) or with a home Internet connection that you enable with Wi-Fi.
- A video-chatting app, like Zoom, FaceTime or Google Hangouts.
Share activities together
Doing the same thing at the same time while seeing each other and communicating is part of why people feel more connected when they’re physically together. When you connect virtually, you can help foster this feeling of connection by doing the same activity at the same time from your own homes. Try setting up your video-chatting system in the kitchen while you each cook dinner. Or prop up your device on the dining room table so you can eat a meal together.
Another great way to connect with each other is by watching your favorite TV show at the same time or renting the same movie and watching it simultaneously. Texting, instant messaging and calling during commercial breaks are all ways to share the experience.
Play games virtually
One thing people tend to miss when they’re apart is the ease and laughter of sitting around a table with their loved ones playing games. Fortunately, many games you may remember fondly are now available online—everything from chess and checkers to dominoes, Boggle and Connect Four. You can also play the countless numbers of virtual card games and many of your favorite board games, including Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit.
If there’s a game you miss playing with loved ones, a quick online search can tell you if it’s available online. Most likely it is. But you don’t need to limit yourself to online versions of old classics. Learn something new by exploring family-friendly group games designed specifically for the digital world.
Of course, the games don’t even need to be online. Some classic games easily lend themselves to playing through video chat—for example, Taboo, Pictionary and charades. You’re more likely to feel connected when you share some laughter through a screen.
Share your skills
One delightful thing about being together with loved ones is how easily you can learn things from one another. There’s no reason to stop this tradition when you’re apart. With video chatting and a little preplanning, you can learn all sorts of skills from each other—from how to speak a second language or bake a family recipe to playing the guitar or improving your chess game.
Celebrate life events remotely
Ideally, you’d like to be together physically for special occasions, but being apart doesn’t mean you need to forgo life event celebrations entirely. You can mark anniversaries, birthdays and graduations with a virtual celebration. Send presents in advance, cook a meal or bake a special treat. Then gather your loved ones for a video chat to open presents, share a meal, eat cake and engage in any other traditions you have for in-person celebrations.
The same approach can be used for any holidays you celebrate. There’s no reason you can’t open baby shower presents or eat your favorite Fourth of July meal while video chatting with your loved ones. While it’s not exactly like being together, it’s far better than being apart.