Lockdowns and travel restrictions during the pandemic caused video chat platforms to become the mainstream in connecting with family and loved ones remotely. Even as many restrictions are relaxed, people are still using these platforms to connect with loved ones and participate in events. Among these programs is Zoom, a commutations software that became a household name in the early weeks of 2020 COVID-19 shutdowns. It remains an accessible communications tool seniors may want to know about and use.
Zoom, similar to other video chat programs like Skype and WhatsApp, allows users to send links to online chatrooms where you can connect and host events from a remote location. Since the start of lockdowns in March of 2021, Zoom has become a useful tool for many schools, universities and businesses to conduct online classes and meetings.
Zoom can also be used to host social events, making it easy to connect with friends and loved ones too far away to visit. Seniors can host a Zoom call from the comfort of their assisted living apartment.
Zoom is easy to use even if you're not a tech-savvy senior. Here is a list of steps to help you get started.
This seems self-explanatory, but you will need to have access to a computer or phone in order to use Zoom. Whether you have a computer in your apartment or wish to visit the on-site computer center at Autumn Views Gardens in Ellisville, MO, be sure the equipment you're using has an attached or built-in webcam. Using your smartphone is a convenient alternative, as they already come with a video camera.
You can still use Zoom without a webcam, but you won't be able to participate in video calls and will miss out on the social fun that can come from it. You can also purchase and connect a webcam to your computer if yours doesn't come with one built-in.
Zoom is an application that needs to be downloaded onto the device you'll be using in order to use the program. If you're using a smartphone, you can download Zoom from your device's app store. For those who prefer to use the computer, here is a link to the Zoom download.
You need good access to the internet for Zoom to run smoothly during a video session. A bad connection can lead the video and audio to lag, which isn't helpful if you plan to open a video call. Be sure to check your connectivity for any issues before starting your event.
To use Zoom, you must make an account. It's simple and easy to sign up for, so follow this link to start creating your Zoom account. Once on the log-in page, you are given the option to make an account or connect an existing Google and Facebook account to sign up. There are paid versions of Zoom, but you can host video calls with the free version.
After you sign up and enter Zoom to start a meeting, the home screen gives you a few options to choose from. You can start a new meeting, schedule a meeting for the future, join an existing meeting or share your screen.
To start your event, select "New Meeting". This instantly opens a chat room where you can start inviting family and friends to join. While making your chat room, you can create a Personal Meeting I.D. that your guests will be emailed in order to enter the meeting. Be sure that those you're hosting the Zoom event for also have Zoom accounts. Your meeting link will not work otherwise.
Let's say that you've been invited to a Zoom meeting. In order to join a meeting that's already in progress, you should need the link. Someone should have sent it to your email, and clicking it directs you into the meeting without much issue. If you weren't sent a link, double-check with the host of the meeting and request that they send one.
Zoom also offers a full list of how users can join meetings across different platforms here.
Zoom offers plenty of fun in-app tools that can help enhance the social aspects of your meeting.
One of the most popular is "Share Screen," which lets you share your computer screen with everyone in the meeting. This is great for sharing anything you like with your friends and family. A few ideas to try with this feature are sharing family vacation photos or going online window shopping with your friends.
Looking to make the online game night more interesting? Another fun feature Zoom has is room splitting. The host can separate people into different chat rooms, which can add an extra level of competition to your family game night.