During times of isolation, it’s more important than ever to reach out and stay connected to friends and loved ones. Thankfully, with access to the internet via computers and smartphones, this seemingly difficult task is easier than ever. We’ve put together a few different ways you can keep in touch while still maintaining a distance.


This easy-to-use software allows voice and video calling, as well as a text-only instant-message (IM) feature for groups of up to 50 people on any device. To get started, it’s as simple as downloading the software (many PCs running Windows 10 come with Skype pre-installed), creating a free account (you will need a working email address to do this), and signing in to find and add your friends. If you want to use video chat, you will also need to make sure your device has a working camera.

To learn more about Skype, visit this link


Facetime is a bit more limited in scope than Skype. For instance, it can only be used with Apple products such as Macs or iPhones, and you can only chat with up to 32 people at a time. To use FaceTime, check to see if the FaceTime app is installed on your device. Then, it’s as simple as clicking the ‘plus’ sign to make a call to any other FaceTime user.

For a more detailed tutorial, visit this link.


Much like Skype, Discord also allows users to set up voice and video chats. The advantage to this program is that you don’t have to download any software. You can use Discord right from your computer’s internet browser window. Video chatting is currently limited to only 10 people at a time, but one of the unique features of Discord is that the callers can choose to share their computer screen rather than their video camera feed. This allows users to do things like all watch a YouTube video together. Another advantage is that Discord is used by a lot of younger people since it was designed as a way to play video games with friends, so it might be a great way to check in on grandchildren.

To set up a free account with Discord, please visit this link.


Friends all busy? How about connecting to the world of a good book? Library closed? Not a problem! You can use your existing library card to download ebooks and audiobooks to your smartphone or tablet for free! There are two apps that accomplish this, and both are very similar, so you can pick your favorite from the Appstore of your device. After downloading the app, select your library and input your library card number in order to check out books for up to 21 days. If you don’t have a library card, you can request one online here.

For more information about Overdrive, visit this link.

For more information about Libby, visit this link.

More Free Reads

The Internet Archive has announced that their entire collection will be freely available to the public without wait times until June 30th or the end of the U.S. National Emergency, whichever comes later.

Reading app Scribd has given everyone a free 30 day trial without credit card signup.

Theater/Opera/Concert Streams

Looking for a little culture while the theaters and venues are closed? You can get your fix right at home! Many theater companies are providing free streams of their past shows that you can watch on various platforms.

The Metropolitan Opera is showing a different opera every night.

The National Theatre of London is showing a different play every Thursday.

The Nashville Shakespeare Festival is screening 2016’s Comedy of Errors tonight at 7pm CST on Facebook.

The Royal Opera House is streaming various ballets and operas.

You can find a list of dozens of upcoming live-streamed concerts here.

Why not try a virtual museum tour? Many museums allow you to view the collections from the comfort of your couch!

Here at FiftyForward, we hope you will stay safe and stay connected during this most unusual time. When we can all come out again there are programs and classes, travel, and resources all available through our agency or at one of our seven centers.

Use this newfound time to enrich yourself mentally, physically and spiritually.

Written by Elliot Burnette
Development and Marketing Assistant, FiftyForward