Benefits

Keeping connected across the miles

At Fire Tech we often say that not all screen time is created equal.  Watching a hundred YouTube videos about cats (as uplifting as that can be!) is not the same a shooting and editing a video to raise awareness on an issue that’s important to you, or writing a programme to help make data more understandable.  We like to highlight that rather than just consuming with technology, we can create, problem solve, and communicate.  

This morning I was thinking about what kinds of problems families are facing today and how we can use digital tools to help solve those.  As someone whose family is far-flung, I rely on technology to stay in touch with my parents and in-laws, my sister, and even my daughter who is now at university in the States.  Obviously working from home, Fire Tech has been using technology not only to do our work but also to keep our team connected.  I recently took some of the more fun tools that we’ve used at work and hosted a family trivia night, bringing together my nephews, kids, and parents.  I thought that our Fire Tech families might be interested in some of the ways that we’ve discovered to have a good night in with friends or families who – due to geography or lockdown – we can’t see in real life.  These are more like board games than video games and give lots of chances for laughs and making memories!  I hope you enjoy!

Trivia night!

Who doesn’t love trivia?  We love using Kahoots to run trivia nights.  You can create your own quizzes or you can find loads online.  Note that you need two devices to participate if you use Kahoot – one to respond the questions (phone is easiest for this – download the Kahoot app first) and one for the video conferencing (Zoom or Google meet are both free – you need to be able to share your screen). We’ve usually write our own questions so that it can be personal, bringing in funny trivia about family history or inside jokes. You can also find ready made Kahoot trivia quizzes here (which tend to be about school subjects), or you can google for lists of trivia questions and answers on different themes.  Radio Times has a good one on general knowledge here, or you can find ones geared to kids here – in fact you can find questions on pretty much anything.  Just be selective so you get the right level of easy and hard questions!

Pictionary-style guessing games 

These are hilarious especially if you are as artistically untalented as me!  We use Skribbl.io which will generate a list of random terms that you pick from to draw.  The “underscore” blank spaces tell you how many letters you are looking for and begin to self-populate as the time ticks down to give you hints.  You’ll need to create a private room and then you can copy the link (you’ll see it on the page where you create your room) and send the link to your participants.  I’ve used it on laptop but you can also go to the website on your phone or iPad.  (Phones are a bit small for good drawing.) If you do this on your computer you can just have two windows open to keep the video call going – but you don’t need a separate device.

Jackbox Games

If you decide you are loving the online games as a far-flung-family/friends activity, consider buying one or a bundle from Jackbox.  They have all kinds of social games that are funny and family-friendly.  Quiplash is fun if you have lots of people as you vote on the winning (ridiculous, funny) answer to the questions.  Fibbage is also good. The packs are around £25 and you can buy them on the app store or on Steam. 

Top Tips

Be sure that you give these a go before the big event to be sure that you know how to get them going – and to find the private or family-friendly settings. If you are playing with parents you may want to “onboard” them ahead of time so that you don’t spend valuable family time getting their tech sorted (which can kill the party vibe).  Feel free to add snacks and bevs to increase the atmosphere!  If you are using Google Meet on a computer as your platform you can add fun filters with Snap Camera – your kids can help you figure this out :).  When you get into Google Meet go into settings and choose Snap Camera as your video input – just be sure to switch it back to your webcam before you try to get on your next work call – not that I ever turned up to a work meeting to find myself with psychedelic goat horns and scrambling around to turn them off!  

Hopefully these will be fun ways to spend time together, get more out of your next zoom call, and to leverage tech to stay connected in these crazy times!