The Best Ways to Use Tech During Self-Isolation

Durrants Village resident Mike Case, a former deputy headmaster and computer science teacher, shares his tips for how to best use technology to combat loneliness while self-isolating. 

All of us are likely to become increasingly isolated because of the ‘social distancing’ restrictions that have been imposed by the Government. Despite this it is obviously important for our wellbeing to maintain communications with friends, family and neighbours.

Here I would like to share some suggestions as to how you can us technology to help ease any feeling of loneliness and boredom.

Obviously the external, internal and mobile telephone systems will continue to be very useful. In addition, there are some other opportunities available if you have a mobile phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer and access to the internet.

If you have a mobile phone, possibly the most useful option is WhatsApp, an app which can be downloaded for free from the Apple or Android Play store. This is a particularly excellent way of sharing things with a group of people.

You can set up a group on Whatsapp by tapping the ‘pen and paper’ icon in the top right corner, tap ‘New Group’ and then the app will present you with a list of your contacts who also have Whatsapp, and you can add as many of the relevant people to your group as you want. Video clips, photos, images and text messages can be broadcast to all members of the group, any member can reply and everyone in the group receives that reply.

As an example, we have already set up a small local group of residents using WhatsApp and any member who has successfully reserved a slot for a supermarket delivery is able to invite others in the group to participate. This can help to alleviate the present difficulty in obtaining a slot.

Other social media apps can be useful. Many will already use Skype which can be a great comfort as it allows image and voice communication over the internet and does not cost anything (apart from broadband costs).

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are other common social media platforms which are used for communicating with family, friends and neighbours.

In terms of entertainment,  just about any music can be accessed via YouTube, which is also a great source of ‘how to’ videos which can teach you how to concoct a recipe or keep fit and many other things, by following actions shown on screen. Now is an especially a good time to learn a new activity.

Other entertainment options may be to access quizzes and puzzles, to download online daily papers (some can be accessed without charge, like the Daily Mail, using a free application called Calibre). It is also possible to download films from platforms such as Amazon and Netflix.

Much of this can be accessed easily using devices like Amazon Alexa Echo, which responds to spoken commands. It can play virtually any tune, or type of music, for instance, ask it to “play 60s pop’ or “play country and western music” and it will.  You can ask it to tell you the cost of a 1st class postage stamp, or to time an egg or tell you a recipe, or recite a story and it can. The device can be treated as an encyclopaedia. It will also play simple games when asked.

There are number of residents in this village, and other villages operated by Inspired, who are prepared to help others setting up groups or accessing various internet sites. Let’s share and help everyone.

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