Tips to connect with family online

There are a list of options available to connect with family online.

  1. WhatsApp – has a maximum group call of 4 people. They recently updated their app to make it easier to start a group call. Requires an internet connection.
  2. Apple’s FaceTime – Anyone with an iPhone 6 or newer, iPad or most MacBooks, can make video calls with up to 32 people. It is easy to use.
  3. Zoom – the tool that is taking the world by storm at the moment, allows for 40min group calls (3+ people) on the free account. Requiring an internet connection, and with a limit of up to 100 people, it is easy to see why so many families around the world are using Zoom to connect online. Be aware of sharing your meetingID only with your friends or family, avoid posting the MeetingID on public or social media sites to avoid unwanted guests on your family chat. Some Zoom security tips here.
  4. Facebook Messenger – the free phone, web or tablet app allows for calls with up to 50 people. Internet connection is needed.
  5. Skype -allowing up to 50 users to connect online. It is free to download via the app or online at https://www.skype.com/en/get-skype/

Activities To Keep The Family Entertained At Home

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

— Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, JK Rowling

We have plenty of things to keep us entertained – there are streaming services like Netflix, video calling options such as Apple’s FaceTime, Zoom or Messenger to stay connected with loved ones, but if you are looking for other ways to have fun here are some online activities that will keep you and your family educated and entertained during your time at home.

Play your favourite music

Here is a public playlist I put together on Spotify (get a free account here) or a paid subscription through Apple Music (a free trial is available).

A playlist: Positive tunes for Self Isolation – Spotify or Apple Music 

Music can be a great equaliser. It can lift you up when you are feeling down, or in need of an energy boost. There are many streaming services available with curated playlists or you can pull out your favourite vinyl or CD.

Keeping the family entertained

Taronga Zoo has its own zoo channel with live feeds of its Seals and Tigers and other animals. Watch feeding times with the Zoo keepers – both educational and entertaining, like Big Brother for animals!

https://taronga.org.au/taronga-tv

NASA has a range of free online activities including Making your own cloud in a bottle, building a model paper rocket, or online images from space.

https://science.nasa.gov/get-involved/nasaathome

Author of Harry Potter, JK Rowling, has launched ‘Harry Potter At Home‘, here you’ll find all the latest magical spells to keep you entertained – including magical craft videos (teach your friends how to draw a Niffler!), fun articles, puzzles and plenty more for new readers, as well as those already familiar with the wizarding world.

Cast a summoning charm on fun!

https://www.wizardingworld.com/collections/harry-potter-at-home

Australian National Theatre Live has a range of recorded performances that you can watch online – keep your cultural muscled flexed at http://www.antlive.com.au/

Sydney Olympic Park virtual tour of ARTEXPRESS https://www.sydneyolympicpark.com.au/Education/ARTEXPRESS

Start a Garden

Whether you have a balcony or backyard, you can buy some plants or seeds at your local Bunnings or hardware store and grow some herbs or vegetables. And won’t you feel good about yourself knowing that you are growing vegetables to stay healthy?

Keep moving and exercise

There are many online fitness classes you can use or you can simply grab some of the canned goods from the pantry, and use them to do some arm curls, use the lounge to do dips or do some squats.

If you are working from home, replace your travel with a walk or a run. You have more time up your sleeve so you can finally get started on that fitness regime!

Support local businesses

See if your local cafe does takeaway, or buy a voucher that you can use when things finally get back to normal.

Now get out there and get creating, learn something new or simply chill out on the lounge and be entertained!

Streaming services and which one to choose

Australians have, on average, spend $30 a month on streaming services according to savings.com.au. With the recent addition of two new streaming services – Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus we may see this figure rise, or we may see services fail and bow out of the market. In the meantime how do we choose which service to keep?

Netflix is the market leader in Australia with more than 4 million subscribers, followed by Stan. However Disney Plus has a large volume of content including its entire back catalogue of classic and modern Disney movies, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars and National Geographic. All for $8.99 a month. This is definitely one to watch as a potential rival to Netflix.

Baby Yoda is a can favourite on The Mandalorian – one of Disney Plus Originals.

Apple TV Plus contains roughly a dozen shows, all originals, with more coming each month. At a cost of $7.99, it doesn’t give as much bang for your buck as the other services, but each show is distinctively different, original and contains some stellar casts including Oprah, Jennifer Anniston, James Momoa and Reece Witherspoon.

A quick summary of each streaming service available in Australia:

Netflix – the king.

Stan – a close second to Netflix.

Amazon Prime – wide range of horror movies, dark comedies and classic movies.

Hayu – all the reality tv you need.

Apple TV Plus – will come to its own in 2020 as more titles are released.

Disney Plus – this is a must for any family or Star Wars or Marvel fan.

FOXTEL Now – the Foxtel streaming service – for those not able or wanting to get FOXTEL satellite.

Kayo – the Netflix of Sports. It includes a long list of sport shows and events, from rugby, NRL, tennis and NBA to the light saber championship.

My take on the streaming services: try them out for a couple of months and then see if you can whittle them down to three or four favorites.