Tips for staying connected virtually
If you’re feeling socially isolated, you’re not alone. It’s a common feeling among older adults. It’s important to not give up trying to stay connected with your loved ones, support groups and doctors, even when you’re not able to see them in person. Video chatting is a feature found on most mobile phones, tablets and laptop computers. It can be an easy way to see and talk with your community while in the safety and comfort of your own home. Here are a few tips to help you become familiar and comfortable with video calling.
- Be patient and ask for help. Learning something new can be difficult, and no one expects perfection on the first try. Don’t worry or be embarrassed if it takes you time to become comfortable with video chatting. If you are having difficulties, ask a friend or loved one to walk you through a video call, and let them help you with the camera and other tools you may not be familiar with.
- Use a large screen and magnifying tools or technologies. While many people use their smartphones for video calls, you may want to use a device with a larger screen, such as a computer, laptop or tablet. If your computer is a PC, you may be able to magnify your screen by clicking on the Windows and plus (+) keys or using a utility called Magnifier. If you’re on a Mac, click the option, command and plus (+) keys. If you are using a phone or tablet, go to the settings and increase the size of the text on your screen. This way, you can read text more easily. You may be able to zoom into the screen using your fingers. There are also screen magnifiers that are available to attach to your computer monitor.
- Find a comfortable, well-lit room and set up for the call. Keeping any lighting in front of you, instead of directly behind you, can help improve the lighting quality of your video call. Also, make sure you are in a room with a strong internet connection. It might be nice to have a table nearby where you can rest your device so you can stay comfortable during long calls. In addition, there are ways to blur your background or change your background if you don’t want other people to see your room. This feature may be called “background effects,” but not always. Be sure to consult a loved one ahead of your video call if you are not sure how to have a different background but would like one.
- Select how you want to see the people you are talking to. Having a call with more than one person? Typically, you will either see everyone on the call at the same time, or just the one person who is speaking. You can change this based on your own personal preference. This can usually be adjusted by clicking on or near each person’s name or image, but if you are having trouble, be sure to contact a loved one or friend to help you with this.
Using video chatting can be a great way to feel close to your family and friends when you can’t see them in person. The more you practice, the easier it will be. You may be surprised by how simple it can be. Be patient with yourself—one day, you may be able to help others with video calls!