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Tuesday, February 7, 2023
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Virtual Playdates for Kids

Social distancing has turned our world upside down, and our kids—who are used to seeing their friends and teachers on a daily basis—have been hit especially hard. When we’re stuck at home for long periods, the loneliness is all too real.

Here are five ways that kids and grownups can interact with each other online to help ease our minds.

Netflix PartyScreen Shot 2020 03 24 at 10.19.45 AM

Watching a movie with friends just got easier with the Netflix Party browser extension for Chrome. It allows you to stream a show or movie simultaneously with your friends near and far and features a chat box, so you can chime in with your reactions to the show.

Once you’ve installed the extension, find the program you want to watch and hit the NP button on your browser. A shareable link will pop up for you to send to your friends. When they click on the link and the NP button in their browser, you will start watching together! It took a few tries for my husband and I to get in sync, but once we got the hang of it, it was easy.

We also found a similar extension for watching YouTube videos together called YouTube Party, but we’re not so sure we recommend you let the kids loose with that one.

Game Together
If your kids haven’t experienced playing video games together yet because they’re too young or not ready for unsupervised online play, now is the time to dive in. Kids can play Minecraft together in a closed realm with only their friends, invent whole worlds together in Roblox, or create a brand new island world in new Animal Crossings New Horizon on the Nintendo Switch. Kids can play Minecraft and Roblox games together regardless of which platform they’re playing on, which is especially helpful when one friend has an Xbox and another a tablet.

Zoom Chat
Set up a Zoom chat for your kids and their friends so they can all see one another face to face and get silly. Consider setting up games for the chat, like Bingo or trivia for them to play together.

Apple and Google Play
This is a great app for little ones to chat with their loved ones far away. Plus, you can draw, play simple games like word searches, tic-tac-toe and mazes, and do writing prompts together. It’s aimed at young kids, but is a great way for them to play and chat with their far-away family.

Getting to Know You
Have the kids Skype or Facetime once a day and have the kids ask a different question each day about their grandparents’ life. What was their favorite game as a child? Favorite subject in school? What do they remember getting in trouble for? What was their first car? How much did it cost? What was their first date? First job? Kids old enough to write can write a paragraph a day and have a nice history about the family by the end of the break. It will brighten grandparents’ days, and serve as a great memory for the kids.

—Ann Levelle

Read on for more fun things to do!

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