"Despite the hardships that we have all faced over the past 12 months, it is great to see that being apart has brought us closer together and we have spent lots of time interacting with our families."
Excitement is mounting that families across the UK will finally be able to meet up and ‘hug’ by mid-summer, but according to new research Zoom family gatherings are a lockdown trend that are here to stay.
With over two-thirds of people saying that get-togethers over the internet have resulted in their extended family spending more time together, compared to face-to-face time before the pandemic, three quarters of people questioned said that they will continue quizzing and game playing with family online once the lockdown ends.
The findings are part of a study of more than 2,000 UK adults by broadband provider Zen Internet, which looked into the video calling habits of UK adults since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
71 per cent of the UK say that they have spent more time with family online since the pandemic as a result of lockdown interactions.
It also found that more than half of those questioned had never used video conferencing technology before the lockdowns (52.85%). Similarly, a spokesperson for Zoom recently reported that most people hadn’t heard of Zoom at the beginning of 2020 and that it’s now a household name!
From virtual wine tasting evenings to the now famous family Zoom Quiz, screen-based gatherings have also brought back some age-old games with trivia, bingo and Guess Who appearing in the most popular things to do online.
But if you’re in need of a bit of Zoom party inspiration to get you through the next few months and beyond, the broadband experts from Zen.co.uk have researched the most popular, fresh, family friendly ideas for your next meet up.
Sunday dinner cook along
Perhaps a certain family member is renowned for their Sunday dinner cooking skills? If so, then get them to lead a cook along that the whole family can be part of. With a bit of forward planning, make sure you all have the same ingredients prepped and ready to go and then over to your celebrity chef style host to guide the rest of the family through the process. Children will enjoy getting involved with the cooking and once the dinner is ready you can all sit down together and enjoy it virtually … it’s just a shame you can’t get your laptop to wash up.
Virtual fancy dress night
If you’re a family that loves to dress up then don’t let a pandemic stop you. A monthly themed fancy dress night will give you the chance to get your creative juices flowing to create costumes and accessories with whatever you can find at home. If you want to go all out, why not match food and drink to your theme for that extra Instagram appeal. And if you’re the family member who usually shies away from dressing up … at least you’re in the comfort of your own home and nobody else can see you.
Get creative with backgrounds and special effects
Adding some special effect filters to your Zoom or Teams calls will certainly keep you entertained whilst on a family call – as well as confusing your more elderly relatives at the same time. Filters like Snap Camera will turn you into the cat (recently made famous by the Texas Lawyer), a potato, Pingu and many more crazy characters. You can also change your background to make it look as if you’ve left the country since the last time you chatted – or perhaps you could use it as a way to share some favourite family pictures.
Show and Tell
Visual prompts are great for getting friends and family involved, and even for taking a trip down memory lane. Ask everyone to bring ‘an object’ – however random or sentimental - to your next online get together, where everyone has to guess what the object signifies or why it’s important to you. It will be guessing and storytelling at its best.
Virtual bedtime story
It goes without saying that your children always behave better for their grandparents, favourite auntie, uncle, nephew or niece, so why not instigate a weekly virtual bedtime story to get your family involved in some valuable childcare. Set the kids up in their bedroom with your chosen family member, while you sit back and enjoy some peace and quiet.
Georgina Lord from Zen.co.uk said: “More than anything the data revealed how adaptable we are as a nation to continue to spend time together with loved ones and how the internet has aided this.
“Despite the hardships that we have all faced over the past 12 months, it is great to see that being apart has brought us closer together and we have spent lots of time interacting with our family members. Even in summer 2020, when restrictions were more relaxed, we were still spending at least four hours a week connecting with loved ones online.
“It will be extremely interesting to see what is next for video calling and how it becomes ingrained in our family life. Although you could interpret the data that people would rather spend time communicating with extended family digitally, rather than physically, it could in fact be that we are more likely to interact with family more often via the internet – especially if they live further away.
“Whatever happens, we hope that our new takes on Zoom gatherings help the nation through the next few months.”