Beach computer coach offers tips on staying connected in a disconnected world

Zoom has become a popular way for people to stay connected during the COVID-19 crisis, writes Beach computer coach Alex Webster.

By ALEX WEBSTER

Millions of people connected over video chat this past Easter weekend. For businesses that operate globally, or families that are spread across the world, video chat has played a major role in connecting people for years now. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this service more essential than ever.

Video chat will become increasingly necessary throughout this global crisis.

We are social beings by nature, and although communication through a screen does not replace seeing someone in person, human interaction is vital for our mental health.

Many older, retired people live alone and were isolated before COVID-19 changed the world. It is more important than ever to reach out to people that are alone and keep them connected.

For many, phone calls suffice, but as social distancing stretches over months, the need to see human faces we care for will only increase.

Microsoft Skype and Apple Facetime have long been household names for video calls between family and friends. However, in less than a month of social distancing, Zoom has become the go-to for most people looking to connect with others. This can be attributed to several factors, including the lack of need for an account to join a Zoom video call, and its compatibility with all computers, smart phones, and tablets.

Although Facetime functions in a similar manner to Zoom, all participants must be using Apple products. This can be a problem when trying to organize large groups for something like Easter. To invite someone to a Zoom chat, just send a text or email with a link, and the recipient can click on it and be connected instantly. The only requirement is that the free app be installed on user’s device beforehand.

Unfortunately for those with desktop computers with standard monitors, video chatting is impossible without purchasing a webcam. Webcams are not available anywhere right now due to high demand.

However, for those with a smartphone looking to see their loved ones’ faces on a larger screen, it is possible to join the video chat on the phone and the desktop computer at the same time. This way you can see the people on a larger screen and your phone will act as the camera and microphone.

Some people may have heard of the security breaches Zoom was having. They have moved quickly to fix these problems. The main issue was that participants did not need to be approved when joining a call. This meant that strangers could join and eavesdrop undetected, while some would interrupt to “troll” the video call. Now the meeting host must approve all people joining the call, making it much more secure.

If you have an older relative or friend who is hesitant to try video chatting but has the technology to do so, ask them just to try it once and see what they think.

We need to connect with each other to get through this, and video chat is the best method we have to connect with each other in a world with an uncertain future.

Alex Webster offers computer coaching and support for the Beach/Toronto East. He can be reached at www.thecomputercoach.ca  or by phone at 416-550-7873.


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