Summer break calendars, typically loaded with trips to the amusement parks, swimming pools, baseball games, or children’s museums, or even just spending lazy days with neighborhood friends, are looking a little sparse these days as COVID has changed everyone’s plans. But the cancellation of those activities and events doesn’t mean your kids aren’t connecting with friends. Here are four ways children of all ages can stay connected with friends while still social distancing.

Chat through Online Gaming

Are you worried your teens are spending too much screen time playing Minecraft, Fortnite, or Call of Duty in their rooms? While it might seem excessive at first glance, gaming is actually a great alternative for optimal socially distanced socializing. Most game consoles have a voice-chat feature enabling players to interact in real-time. And, because voice chat works independently from the games, friends can visit while playing Sea of Thieves or not playing at all.

Chat through Instagram Group

Instagram is proving to be a popular texting tool for teens and tweens because it doesn’t require knowing a person’s phone number to chat. Chat groups have no member limit, so your youth can powwow with all of their friends and classmates whenever they want. And, because it is Instagram, the app is the ideal way to share photos and images.

Chat with Snapchat

Snapchat is likely the most popular platform for teens and tweens to send messages, photos, and videos to friends and family. When they aren’t talking with each other, your kids can at least see where their friends are physically through Snap Map.

Chat through Marco Polo

Dubbed the “video walkie-talkie,” the Marco Polo app allows you to create short video messages that you can directly send to a friend who is then invited to send a video response. While similar to Snapchat, the biggest difference with a Polo message is that it doesn’t disappear once it’s been viewed, leaving a fun video storyline.

Young people can always connect by phone, video apps like Zoom, or visiting while social distancing, but these four technology ideas offer great alternatives. And with USB outlets included at Park Plaza, everyone’s devices will always be charged and ready to go.