Your Starter Guide to Online Communication Tools
May 13, 2020
Now more than ever, it’s important to stay in contact with the people you love. If you’re social distancing due to COVID-19 or trying to keep in touch with relatives from across the country, then you’ve experienced the reality of long-distance communication. Thankfully, with online communication tools, distance no longer needs to be the hindrance it was a decade ago.
Internet text and video chat tools are a great way to connect with people that you can’t meet up with in person. Best of all, they’re easy to set up and use, so you can skip all the hassle and jump straight into conversations with your children, grandchildren and friends.
Ready to begin? Here’s a helpful starter guide for some of the best online communication tools, as well as some tips for getting the most out of your digital communication experience.
A Brief Review of Online Communication Tools
No matter what device you use, there are generally two different types of online communication tools – text chat and video chat tools. Let’s go over both of these types and discuss a few specific examples of each.
Text Chat Tools
Text chatting is exactly what it sounds like, online communication through the use of text, symbols, emojis, gifs and pictures. Aside from the standard text messaging tool on your phone, here are two of the most well-known text messaging apps that you can use to stay in touch with relatives and friends regardless of location.
Facebook Messenger is a live text chat application built into Facebook. Users can have both one-on-one or group conversations, as long as all participants have Facebook accounts and have friended each other. You can also send photos, files, emojis, stickers and even money.
Facebook Messenger can be accessed through all devices. For your smartphone and tablet, you’ll need to download the Messenger app from the app store. For your computer, you can simply log in to facebook.com and access Messenger through the site. This usability makes Facebook Messenger a convenient tool for communicating, as all messages are automatically synced between devices. You can start a conversation on your phone and finish on your tablet or computer without missing a single message.
With over 2 billion users in more than 180 countries, WhatsApp is one of the most popular instant messaging applications. Similar to Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp allows users to send text, images and documents via individual or group messaging. Unlike Messenger, your WhatsApp account is not connected to Facebook, but to your mobile phone number. It also allows for free voice and video calling in addition to text, making it a very versatile online communication tool.
WhatsApp can be downloaded for both Apple and Android devices, and it can also be used for PC and Mac computers.
Video Chat Tools
There’s no substitute for a face-to-face conversation, but video chat tools come close. These apps enable you to communicate through video and voice, so you can see and hear the person you’re talking to. Here are three very popular tools for voice and video chatting.
Looking for a simple, real-time video chat program? Skype is the perfect start. Available for both mobile devices and computers, Skype allows you to send voice and video calls to other Skype users. After setting up your account, you can easily add friends by searching for their Skype username. You can then begin sending and receiving both one-on-one and group video calls. It’s as simple as that.
If you’re an Apple user, you’ve probably already noticed the FaceTime app pre-installed on your iPhone, iPad or Mac computer. With FaceTime, you can participate in voice and video chats with any other Apple users in your phone’s contact list. These conversations can take place one-on-one or in a group of up to 32 people.
Keep in mind, however, that your contacts will be limited to those with Apple devices, and you will not be able to use FaceTime on your PC or Android device.
While Skype and FaceTime are big players in the video chat industry, the Marco Polo app is gaining traction as a unique alternative. What makes Marco Polo different is that the conversations do not take place in real time. Instead, the app enables you to leave back-and-forth video chat messages with other Marco Polo users. This online video messaging style is perfect for busy families and enables users to respond according to their own timetable.
Marco Polo is available as a mobile app for iPhone and Android. It is not accessible via computers.
General Online Communication Tips
Now that we’ve talked about specific text and video tools you can use, let’s go over three basic communication tips to enhance your online experience.
1. Good Lighting is a Must for Video Chat
Before you make or receive a video call, make sure your room is well lit, so your friends and family can see your face. Stand or sit facing a window during the daytime if you’d like more natural light, or simply turn on a nearby lamp. Make sure you’re not standing in front of a window or any other light source, as this will put your face in the shadows.
2. Beware of Hacked Accounts and Phishing
While online communication can be a great way to stay in touch, it’s important to take extra steps to ensure your privacy. Hackers can get into accounts and pose as real people to get you to reveal personal information such as social security and banking information. This happens most often via text chat.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to never reveal personal information over the internet. If you see a message that looks suspicious, do not answer it, especially if you’re being asked for sensitive information.
3. Make Sure You Have a Secure, High-Speed Connection
Lastly, it’s important to ensure that you have a secure, high-speed internet connection that will allow you to communicate without interruption. If you don’t already have an internet connection through your cable company or other provider, technicians will be happy to set up this for you and assist you with picking the connection speed that’s right for you.
Stay Connected at a Luxury Community
At Grand Tapestry, we know how important it is for you to stay in contact with those you care about. That’s why all the apartments in our luxury Oklahoma City senior living community are wired with high-speed internet access. Use your connection from the comfort of your private apartment to stay in touch with friends and family year-round, whether you’re adjusting to social distancing or want to keep up with long-distance relationships.
Ready to learn more about Grand Tapestry? Download our free community living brochure for more information, or call us at (405) 467-2286 today.