As we all know, everyone is in a nationwide quarantine, only able to leave the house unless absolutely necessary. A wide range of emotions has been evoked from this epidemic, causing worry towards friends and family that could potentially be targeted by the Coronavirus. With all the hysteria wreaking havoc on grocery stores and anxiety riddled minds, this time is especially good for winding down with your friends and finding peace within all the chaos in the world. However, as we all have realized, we have to find new ways to stay connected with our friends in order to abide by the orders made about staying in our homes so that the virus doesn’t spread and put others at risk. Even without physically seeing our friends, there are many ways to continue having that strong connection while still being safely quarantined.
Screen sharing platforms have always been a fun way to watch Netflix or YouTube with your friends while in the comforts of your own bed. Though it’s hard to find ones that aren’t complicated or actually work, here are a few that have worked wonders for my friends and I from rigorous trial and error.
Netflix Party: This Google Chrome extension has gotten more traction ever since people have shed light on it on TikTok, a popular social media app. Netflix Party is an effective way to watch Netflix with your friends while one person has control over the TV show or movie being played. A chat is displayed on the side of the screen to send messages to one another, but it’s also effective to FaceTime or have a regular group call in order to voice your reactions according to what’s happening in real time. It’s a very fun way to have movie nights without ever leaving your room and all you have to do is download the Chrome extension and own a Netflix subscription. Once you download the Chrome extension, the next step is to activate the “NP” logo on the top right corner of your screen and send the link to any other friends you’d like to invite to your Netflix party!
Zoom: Yes, Zoom. As students we all associate Zoom with the awkward classroom conferences we have with our teachers and classmates, but it’s useful for other things as well! Zoom is an effective tool that we all have that can be used like FaceTime but has the same screen sharing abilities as Netflix Party. Although you can’t screenshare platforms like Netflix and Disney Plus (you’ll only hear sound and see a black screen), it can still be used on other platforms that stream movies you use on your own personal time along with YouTube videos and anything else that can be shown on your screen. This is also amusing because you can have a little fun by changing your virtual background to any picture you want while seeing everyone’s reactions along with the movie. Zoom can hold as many as 100 participants in a call, including every one of your friends. A helpful tip would be to use an account different from the one you use for school so nothing shocking appears from your virtual background after a long night of goofing off with friends. Trust me, I would know.
Skype: Skype has been a last resort for my friends and I to connect with each other and yes, they have a screen sharing option as well! It can be found on the app store or downloaded on your computer and is easy enough to understand. A group chat can be made with everyone’s Skype users (this process can be a little annoying sometimes, since Skype tends to be slightly difficult) and then everyone can proceed to use FaceTime or a regular call to connect if they don’t like using the audio from the computer. Skype doesn’t make it easy to see everyone while screen sharing, but that’s not always such a bad thing. Sometimes the vibe is to just talk to your friends while watching a movie, especially late at night when you don’t feel like showing your
face that hasn’t gotten sleep in three days. There are times where the quality can be hit or miss when using Skype. Though, this could either be an internet connection problem or just a “Skype is being lame right now” problem. Either way, it’s helped numerous times.
Discord: My friends and I have also used Discord to screen share DVDs from a friend’s laptop and it had great video and audio quality depending on their internet connection. This application can be found on the app store and online to put on your phone or computer. Everyone is able to watch screenshared material shared by one person and connect with everyone else in the voice chat available in the group chat. Discord may seem intimidating at first, but once you get the group chat started and hop in the voice call, more than half of the work is already done! Discord appears to be pretty conscious in making sure that its users aren’t too confused and also gives helpful instructions for using its functions.
Games and Apps
Animal Crossing/Nintendo Games: With school giving me hardly any time to enjoy playing on my 3DS, it had been quietly sitting under my bed collecting dust. Until now. There are games that offer the ability to play together with your friends without them needing to be beside you. Games like Mario Kart, Mario Party, and Animal Crossing (both New Leaf and New Horizons) make it easy and fun to play with your friends!
Cards Against Humanity: Ah, yes, the card game that can either make you feel like a comedic genius or a really horrible person. This game isn’t just enjoyable in person, but also online too! The first link is one that’s mostly well known between teen friend groups and just younger people in general. It may look tricky, but one person just needs to set up the room where other people can join. Then, make a nickname and search your friend’s nickname in the search bar to find their game room. Once found, your friend should b
e able to tell you the password so uninvited guests don’t join in on your game. This online version of Cards Against Humanity allows you to pick as many card expansion packs as you want to make your game experience better, and trust me, it will. Plus, as many players as you want can participate with as many rounds as you decide! This can be found on any internet browser.
A similar website that could be used is Playing Cards.io which has a lot more games you can play with your friends using a room code. Although I personally haven’t tried this one out, there have been many reviews praising how easy it is to use this website!
Jackbox: Jackbox is a game you can get on a computer (or consoles) and all you have to do is screenshare your screen (from the many screen-sharing options provided) and then use the link to play the game on your phone. Since the game already functions like this, it’s easy to play with your friends at home! Jackbox is chock filled with many different interesting games, which are all provided in the link.
Photo Roulette: This is a phone app where it accesses everything in your gallery (including your recently deleted images that aren’t permanently deleted) and randomizes which one is presented so everyone can guess who the photo belongs to. It’s very fun to play (especially when you have nothing to hide but awkward selfies and screenshots) and is a great game to play with those you trust.
We Heart It/Pinterest: Now is the best time to find your style and see what truly speaks to you. A fun activity can be making moodboards for yourself (or anyone in your friend group) of different clothing choices and outfit inspiration you think would truly look good on them. There’s tons of styling inspiration on websites like these and only requires a login to make collages. Or, if you’re already comfortable with your fashion choices, moodboards can be a quirky way to represent people in your friend group, putting together images of memes, objects, quotes, and just any ideas you feel represent them.
Don’t let the quarantine stop you from celebrating a birthday! There’s still loopholes that can keep you safe. Recently a friend of mine had a birthday and her brother orchestrated a “car parade,”except everyone stayed in their cars in the driveway, handing her gifts or chilling while communicating from their opened sunroof. This way everyone is at a safe distance and you can still make your friends feel special even if the Coronavirus has ruined previously made plans.
There are so many interesting and fun ways to keep you and your friends entertained during quarantine, and the list will definitely continue to grow. With all the hardships going around outside and inside your home, with the occasional thought of feeling lonely amidst the storm of this new lifestyle, having fun with your friends can start to make everything feel normal again. Even though we value spending time with our friends, it’s also important to know that once quarantine is over, it’s still important to not jump straight into having large gatherings as if the risk for Coronavirus won’t affect you anymore. Safety precautions still have to take place if we don’t want an unexpected spike of Coronavirus outbreaks. With that being said, stay safe and most importantly, stay inside! Our summer depends on it.