Life under the coronavirus lockdown has seen once busy social lives grind to a halt and families left unable to visit each other.
The good news is that our ever more digital society offers a whole host of online options for spending quality time together.
Here are a few ideas to keep your diaries full in the near future:
– Hold a family conference call
Newly remote workers across the country are using video calls to help keep their business running, with families getting in on the act too.
A wide-range of apps, such as Skype, WhatsApp or Apple’s FaceTime, allow groups of people with access to a camera-enabled laptop or smartphone to have a virtual face-to-face chat.
Even UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was spotted using the Zoom video conferencing platform that has seen a coronavirus-era interest boom.
Questions over the programme’s security and privacy are useful reminders for people to stay safe as social lives move more online.
– Play games online
Whether you are on mobile, PC, Mac, Xbox or Playstation, there’s probably an online game for you out there, with some offering the chance to chat with others while you play.
Options range from mobile classics, such as the Scrabble-esque app Words With Friends, to the newly-released Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Nintendo Switch which allows players to build their dream desert island.
If you fancy blowing off steam you could always log on to the new free to play Call of Duty: Warzone and fight it out (virtually) with pals.
– Share exercise goals
Thankfully current guidelines mean we can still get outside and go for a jog or walk alone once a day – just be sure to keep away from others outside.
Indoors, people are following yoga and exercise classes available on YouTube and Instagram, while gyms are also offering online classes.
Fitness apps like Fiit and adidas Runtastic allow users to track exercise goals and compete with others.
Apple watch owners can also link up with friends and show off how active they have been through its heart and exercise monitoring capabilities.
– Start online dating
Just because you are not able to arrange a pub drink or romantic dinner right now does not mean you should give up looking for love.
Throw out your best coronavirus themed chat-up lines on dating apps and websites like Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, Hinge, Match.com and eharmony.
Budding couples can even arrange a video date in the comfort of their own homes.
Everything you need to know about dating in the age of social distancing. https://t.co/jzcOIFNiWV— Tinder (@Tinder) March 23, 2020
– Join a house party
If you cannot make it to a party, bring the party to you.
Plenty of fun-seekers have started downloading and using the Houseparty app that lets friends drop in on group video chats, as well as play games and do quizzes.
So dress up, grab a glass of wine, head to the sitting room and get partying.
– Pretend to be down the pub
Those missing out on a pint down their local can try and recreate the vibe at home.
It is as simple as setting up a video call to chat about the latest coronavirus updates with friends over a drink.
You could even run your own pub quiz among yourselves, or join in virtual quizzes being run by actual pubs on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
– Watch a live gig or play
Miss the feeling of being part of an audience? Then tune into the wide range of performances now being offered online.
Singers John Legend, Miley Cyrus and Coldplay’s Chris Martin are among those to already have played live or chatted to fans on Instagram.
Elsewhere, the BBC is promising to curate a “virtual festival of the arts” across radio, TV and online – while the UK Royal Opera House will broadcast opera and ballet performances on social media.
– Watch a film together
Replicate those cosy film nights in with friends by using the Netflix Party Google Chrome extension on your desktop computer or laptop.
It synchronises videos and allows for group chat, meaning you can still enjoy the ups and downs of your favourite shows together.
Elsewhere, isolation film clubs have been set up on Twitter, encouraging people to watch and discuss the same film.
– Join an online class or club
The fabulous @shecanteatwhat of the FODMAP Friendly Kitchen cookbook will be streaming live on our Instagram Stories at 1pm today. Head to our Instagram then to tune in live: https://t.co/ZK8oeG2NFW pic.twitter.com/uPFqsKv6ZV— Borough Market (@boroughmarket) March 25, 2020
Businesses, comedians, artists and musicians for people are currently proposing a wealth of ways to share interests online with others.
For example, Borough Market in London is streaming live cookery classes, while Strictly Come Dancing pro Dianne Buswell is running dance tutorials on her YouTube channel.
Elsewhere, the Goodread website runs a number of bookclubs covering a range of genres that are worth exploring.
– Connect to your local community
The value of a close and supportive local community has been underlined in these uncertain times we are all in.
Those looking for company or conversation can take a look online, particularly Facebook where innumerable groups exist covering local interests, hobbies and coronavirus support.
The Nextdoor app also allows neighbours to share information and discuss local goings-on together.