Many families holiday celebrations may look very different this year due to health safety concerns for themselves and their older relatives. Thankfully, many families have gotten used to video communications as they’ve managed online schooling and remote work for months. However, not everyone in the extended family may be so comfortable navigating video calls. So, before you conduct a virtual “Turkey Day” or enjoy video call with grandma or grandpa for Christmas or Hanukkah gift giving, take some steps to boost your online connectivity, make sure your devices are ready and know where to go for help in case things go wrong.
Connectivity is Key
Demand for the internet will likely reach a peak during the major holidays. This might put a strain on internet services, causing lag for a lot of video calls. Consider hosting your calls at off-peak hours to improve your chances of a good connection.
Many cellular plans offer free mobile hotspot service. You can use these as a backup to your primary Wi-Fi in case you have connection issues. Talk to your grandparents and other relatives in advance to see if they need any help setting up a hotspot. Encourage all the participants to use a password-protected Wi-Fi network to avoid neighbors from using their service and slowing down the connection. Consider upgrading your internet speed through your provider and use a “speed test” to ensure you’re receiving the proper amount.
Here are some tips for a seamless virtual celebration:
- If you’re meeting with a larger group, ask people to mute and unmute when they want to talk. Otherwise, there’s too much background noise that interrupts any conversations.
- Consider doing a “trial run” before your celebration to get everyone used to the features.
- Set an allotted time during the day, or schedule two short sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Longer meetings can lose their appeal, so keep them short but fun.
Get the Right Tech
If you plan to celebrate via video with a large group, video conferencing from your phone may not be the best option, given the small screen size. Consider casting the video call to your TV for a larger picture. Talk to the older family members in advance to see if they need help casting their TV as well.
If the grandparents use an older desktop computer for their video calls, consider buying them a nice tablet or laptop for a more portable connection. This allows them to roam around so they can show off holiday’s decorations or their latest craft projects. Encourage your video participants to try different devices to see which one has the best camera (it’s not always the laptop.)
Some other tech tips include:
- A Wi-Fi extender to help boost your signal’s range. If your router is in an upstairs bedroom and you want to conduct a Zoom call from the backyard, that’s a long reach for the signal. Extenders are inexpensive and simple to setup, and work by picking up your existing router’s connection.
- A pair of quality headphones with a built-in microphone can improve the audio quality of your video meetings, so you can hear every argument or laugh.
Find the Right Tech Support
The average home of four has thousands of dollars’ worth of technology. Every person has a handful of tablets, probably three or four computers, several TVs, a soundbar, routers…you get the idea. Managing and protecting all these electronics is a challenge, especially during the busy holiday’s season. Consider a home tech protection plan like Asurion Home+. Asurion Home+ provides easy and quick access to 10,000 tech experts to solve any technology issue you could ever have with almost any home tech device you’ll ever own, and device repair or replacement when you have a tech “oopsie.” So, if you accidentally drop your tablet, you’re covered, and if your new router is difficult to setup, you have 24/7 access to a live Expert.
To avoid some of the potential issues that arise with your technology tools, make sure you play around with them to explore all the cool features. Don’t wait until Christmas morning to hook up your new router. Avoid using an unfamiliar laptop for your Thanksgiving dinner video calls. Get comfortable with your tech so you aren’t frazzled when something goes wrong on a busy and important day. Remember, technology is meant as a complement to your holiday’s season. It doesn’t always work as planned, but you can improve the odds for success by taking some proactive steps today.