Social distancing doesn't mean your kid can't hang out with their friends. With schools closing in response to the spread of coronavirus, kids are missing the social interactions they'd typically get at school, or even on a normal weekend. Thankfully there are apps perfect for virtual playdates that cater to children of all ages and can help your child connect with their buds whether they live across the country or down the street.
Elementary school educator Amy Lowe tells Romper that virtual playdates are important to have so children can socialize and interact with each other, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. “Kids need to talk to someone their age. Interaction is key when we are in a stressful environment, and having a familiar face is reassuring,” she says. She encourages parents to set up a regular time for kids to video or chat friends and family members. And thanks to several apps — like Caribu, Messenger Kids, Marco Polo, Zoom, and Netflix Party — kids can do so much more than just talk to each other over video chat.
Keep in mind that depending on your child's age, specific apps might be better suited for them and their buds. “At any young age, children can't often maintain focus on the video device for long, so parents should prepare themselves to mostly be having an adult conversation while pointing the camera at their ever-moving children," Montessori educator Kathryn O’Neill tells Romper. But even kids who appear not to be interacting much with each other on virtual playdates might "still enjoy the occasional glance at their peer," she adds.
Technology is certainly a blessing in this unique situation we're in, and screen time with friends is the new way for kids to play with friends. Here are six interactive tools your kids can use to stay connected and keep the playdate from going out of style.