How youngsters are conquering social-distancing challenge through digital meetups

Alisha Shinde
Monday, 13 April 2020

With social distancing the only way to control the spread of coronavirus, youngsters are exploring interesting digital communication platforms to stay in touch.

Right now, you cannot venture out and hang out with friends at the neighbourhood café. But nobody is stopping you from meeting your friends and celebrating birthday parties on digital platforms.

CATCHING UP
“Living in isolation is difficult, everyone knows it, but now it has become about how you utilise your time at home. The digital space is amazing, and most of my friends are now on the Zoom app, and we have been talking and staying in touch more than ever, which is turning out to be great. It is sheer happiness when distant friends or families call, and friends celebrate their special moments with you. It is absolute madness when a whole bunch of us are together on live chat, catching up, gossiping and playing games, it feels like they are physically present with you. 

“I usually play Pictionary and dumb charades which do get out of hand a bit but at the end of the day it is all fun to do it together. Keeping fun aside, we are also making use of the digital space and apps to start online coaching classes for different subjects like German, fitness, mental health, art and craft etc. so that people can learn new things every day.”
— Prafulla Chitale

IT’S ALL GAMES AND FUN
“Houseparty is a fun app and the reason I love it is because it doesn’t consume a lot of data. The graphical interface is very user-friendly and subtle, and the games are simple. They don’t require a lot of expertise so that everyone can play them together. The app lets you connect with your Facebook friends so you know the bunch of people you are playing with and simultaneously, talk to them during the live video group conferences. 

“Due to extended quarantine, I’m working from home. So whenever I get an opportunity to catch up with my gang, I get connected on this app. Rather than endlessly scrolling on social media, I prefer to use this app because it lets you indulge in live conversations. My group consists of very close friends, and we used to meet every weekend. Now that it’s not possible, but we still manage to keep in touch via Houseparty. After giving online sessions to my students all day, this app is like a stress-buster.”
— Prof Nikhil Kakade

IT LIGHTENS UP THE MOOD
“Not everybody can deal with isolation, especially at a time when people everywhere are suffering. These are scary times, and things can get scarier if you don’t talk about it. Technology is helping us stay sane, with most of the apps available for free download. Since most of us are WFH, we have a designated time at night to meet up after we are done with our daily routine. Through video calls, be it on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram, Zoom and many more similar applications, we catch up, play and talk about the outbreak. What I really like about spending digital time with my friends is that they can support you and help you deal with the current situation. We are maintaining social distancing, and we are still able to do what matters most. We are still able to exchange Netflix watchlists. It is fun and relaxing.”
— Sanaya Musani

Zoom offers video and screen sharing for up to 100 people. With an increased demand for collaboration tools amid COVID-19 shutdowns, Google has opened up its premium paid features of Hangouts Meet for free, ZOOM is offering K-12 students free access, and Microsoft is offering a free 6-month subscription to Microsoft Teams. 

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