Tackle Your Tech | How to Use Tech to Stay in Touch With Loved Ones

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell

woman over 50 in brown and black outfit sitting on park bench looking at her phoneIf you’re like us, you’ve been thinking of all kinds of creative ways to stay in touch with family and friends during the COVID-19 quarantine!

I took to my Instastory this week to ask my followers what kinds of tech they’ve been using to stay in touch with loved ones, and I got so many good suggestions! Thanks so much to everyone who shared their tech tricks with me! I’m so excited to be able to pass lots of good ideas along to you today!

BTW, I have an iPhone, so Apple technology is what I’m going to be focusing on today. If you have another type of device, I’d Google how to do some of the things I’m going to share with you. Before you try any of this, make sure you’ve downloaded any recent Software Updates (Settings>General>Software Update) on your phone.

woman over 50 in brown and black outfit sitting on park bench looking at her phone

Stay in Touch: Group Texts

You’ve probably already got one of these going in your family, but if not, it’s time to start one!

Send A Group Text

  1. Open Messages and tap  to start a new message.
  2. Enter the recipients’ names or tap add contact to add contacts.
  3. Enter your message, then tap Send send icon.

Name Your Group

  1. Tap a group conversation, then tap the top of the conversation.
  2. Tap .
  3. Enter a name, then tap Done.

Stay in Touch: Conference Calls

The iPhone lets you merge up to five calls at a time to turn them into a conference call! I use this feature all the time to talk to my parents, so they can each be on the phone. Bob and I also use it if he’s at the office and I’m working at home when we talk to one of our kids, a realtor, banker, etc.

To Start a Conference Call

  1. Dial the first person and wait for the call to connect.
  2. Tap add call plus button.
  3. Dial the second person, and wait for the call to connect.
  4. Tap merge calls merge calls button.
  5. The two calls merge into a conference call. Repeat steps 2-4 to add more people. If you don’t see the option to add another call, you might have reached the limit of participants for your carrier.

Only the person who started the conference call can see the names of all participants. But if a participant adds someone else, they can see the name of the person they added and the person who started the conference call.

woman over 50 in brown and black outfit sitting on park bench looking at her phone

Stay in Touch: Group FaceTime Calls

We did a group FaceTime with our family last weekend!

Build Your Group

Open the FaceTime app , then build your group in a similar fashion to the way you built your group text (above). You can invite up to 32 participants!

Start a Group FaceTime Call

  1. In FaceTime, tap the Add button at the top right.
  2. Type the names or numbers of the people you want to call in the entry field at the top. (You can also tap the Add Contact button to open Contacts and add people from there.)
  3. Tap Video  to make a video call or tap Audio  to make a FaceTime audio call.

Each person will appear in a tile on the screen. When a participant speaks, or you tap the tile, that tile moves to the front and enlarges. If your FaceTime Group call involves a lot of people, all of the Tiles might not fit on the screen. In that case, they’ll appear in a row at the bottom. To find a participant you don’t see, swipe through the row. (If an image isn’t available, the person’s initials will appear in the tile.)

Stay in Touch: Zoom Video Conferencing

text message about how to stay in touch with tech

 

Lots of people who responded to my Instastory question told me they’d been using Zoom to stay in touch with family, Bible study groups, prayer groups, or work colleagues. Zoom is a remote conferencing service that combines video conferencing, online meetings, chat, and mobile collaboration to help people stay in touch. It’s free for the first 40 minutes. After that time, there’s a charge. (But don’t worry! They warn you before your 40 minutes is up so you can say your goodbyes and hang up!) #freeisgood ????

The company has stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic and provided a bunch of resources to help you learn to navigate their site for remote working, E-learning, virtual events, telehealth medical visits, and more. Click HERE for their special tutorial page.

computer screen with family that is staying in touch with the help of tech

One of my followers told me they used it for a family game night the other night! They patched in extended family members from all over the country and played the game, Blank Slate! One person would hold up the card they were using, and then everyone would write their answers on notepads. When everyone was done, they would hold up their notepads! How fun are they? #familygoals ????????

Another one of my followers sent me this darling screenshot of her family using Zoom for a big ole’ group chat. They’ve got five states represented here! #lovethis

How to use Zoom

Set up a meeting time with your group. Before the meeting, everyone should go to Zoom and create a free account. When it’s time for the meeting, you can use your phone or your computer. I think it works better on a computer because it’s easier to see all of the sweet faces you love!

To Join From a Computer

  1. Go to Zoom.com.
  2. At the top right of your screen, click “Join a meeting.”
  3. Enter the meeting ID provided by the organizer.
  4. Follow the prompts on your screen to download Zoom and permit it to use your camera and microphone.
  5. Click “Join with computer audio.” when prompted.

To Join From a Tablet or Phone

  1. Download the Zoom app from the App Store. (Use Google Play if you have an Android phone.)
  2. Open the app and click “Join a meeting.”
  3. Enter the meeting ID provided by the organizer.
  4. Click “Call Using Internet Audio.”
  5. Click “Allow” on each prompt to give Zoom permission to use Zoom

Paperless Post now offers invitations for virtual events and parties. You can even add in the Zoom URL to help people connect! To browse event ideas, click HERE. To browse the invitations, click HERE.

Stay in Touch: Make a Family Playlist on Spotify

We’re doing something really fun in our family! We’re making a family playlist on Spotify! ???? Every day, a different person picks a category, announces it on our family group text, and then everyone picks a song that fits. My son then adds it to our playlist. See the “rules” below! ????

screenshot of text

It has been SO. MUCH. FUN. ????????????????‍♀️???? Want to follow our family’s playlist? Click HERE.

Stay in Touch: Share Fun Webcams, Virtual Tours, Apps & Filters

Here are a few other ideas to share with your loved ones!

Awesome Webcams

Virtual Tours

Try a Crazy New App

Sway App

Earlier this week, I downloaded the Sway app on my phone and created a hilarious dance video! ???????? My kids thought I’d joined Tik Tok, and they were mortified! ???????????? I shared the video on my Instastory, and people thought it was really me dancing! It works with an iPhone or iPad.

To create a video in Sway, you record yourself (or a friend) for 30 seconds. Then, the app transposes the video over the body of a professional dancer using artificial intelligence (AI) technology. You can share your dance videos on Tik Tok, Instagram, and Snapchat!

Sketch AR App

Like to draw or doodle? The Sketch AR App is an augmented reality app that puts virtual images on a surface to let you trace drawings from your phone.

Crazy Helium App

The Crazy Helium App warps your face and replaces your voice with either a chipmunk, robot or bear voice. You can then share the video online.

Instagram Story Filters

Last August, Instagram introduced the ability for users to make their own augmented-reality filters via the Spark AR Studio. Since then, there has been a steady stream of creative user-made filters. There are a couple of ways to snag filters.

From the Selfie Camera

Once you’re in Instagram Stories, hit the selfie symbol on the bottom right of your screen. Then swipe to the right of the camera shutter button to see Instagram’s filters. When you find one you like, tap the name of it, and the screen below will come up. From there, hit “browse effects” to get to a filter search engine.

instagram filters

Snag One From Someone You Follow

When you’re watching someone’s Instastory, look underneath their name to see if they’re using a filter.

screenshot of instastory

If you like the effect it’s creating, tap the name of the filter.

screenshot of instastoryWhen the screen above appears, tap either “Try it” or “Save” to save the filter to use at a later time. (Mine above says “Saved” because I’ve already saved this filter. Clearly, it’s badly needed! ????) Your saved filters will appear on the left side of the camera shutter button when you open the selfie camera.

Get It From the Creator’s Page

Another way to find the cool user-made filters is to look at the profile of the creator. Go to the tab that looks like an emoji. From here, you’ll see the filters they’ve uploaded, and select the one you like.

screenshot of filter emoji

 

One of my favorite game filters is called “Who is more____?” It was created a young digital creator named Vamonke. When you go to his profile page, tap the highlight button that says, “Who is more….” to download it for yourself.

BTW, Bob and I just filmed one of these so you can check it out for yourself and snag it right from my Instastory! It’ll be live for the next 24 hours!

Instagram profile screenshot

Like Disney? You can snag some cool Disney, Pokemon, and Harry Potter character filters on Instagram? Click HERE for instructions.

woman over 50 in brown and black outfit sitting on park bench looking at her phone

Monogrammed Layering Tee | Black Jeans (similar-without frayed hem) | Snakeprint Booties (similar) | Earrings (similar)

 

This long-sleeve layering tee is perfect for the cool mornings and warmer afternoons we’re having right now! It comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns!

 

How are you and your family using tech to stay in touch during this time? I’d love to know! Please leave me a comment and let me know!

Blessings,

 

 

 

Photos by Megan Weaver.

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Suzy Mighell

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8 Comments

  1. Thanks great info. Just want to share this app. My camping friends all downloaded the Marco Polo app. so we can keep in touch.

    1. Angie,
      Yes! I’ve heard of Marco Polo. Such a great idea! Thank you!
      xoxo Suzy

  2. Such great tips, Suzy! I love learning new things. I also wanted to mention that the Disney Parks blog has posted video tutorials on drawing Disney characters. That\’s fun for kids and adults! Stay safe!

  3. Great post Suzy! You are so fun and creative, keep up the good work during this challenging time!

    1. Carol,
      Thank you, my friend! That really means a lot coming from you! Praying all is well for you and yours!
      xoxo Suzy

  4. This was great! Thank you! Love the zoo and virtual tour ideas. Just a little tip about zoom. If it logs your group off at 40 minutes everyone can quickly log back in to the same number and continue the conversation. It will not charge you. You can upgrade for $14.99 a month for unlimited time. I did that for a couple months during this time for Bible study groups that I lead.

    1. Wendy,
      That’s a great tip and I had no idea! Thank you so much for sharing! Stay safe & well!
      xoxo
      Suzy

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