How to "Socialize" in a time of Social Distancing


“And this is how you make your box!” exclaimed Farah* as she held up the folded calendar paper to a group of other girls who had gathered together for a virtual playdate. With the COVID-19 outbreak, and especially Orange County’s current order banning social gatherings of any size, online playdates are a welcome respite for children who are missing their friend time.

Seema* came up with the idea when her daughters expressed sadness at missing their masjid friends, whom they played with twice a week after their local Qur’an class. She contacted a few moms on Whatsapp and set up a Zoom meeting for the girls. The girls meet almost daily and look forward to their time sharing stories, reading poems and stories they have written, discussing current events, or teaching others how to do crafts.

With school and class closures also looking to extend to the summer, Zoom has become a familiar platform as many institutes use it to deliver their classes online. Anyone can download the application and use a free account. Participants can use their cameras and audio capability to do live video chats with a group of people. Zoom meetings max out at 40 minutes for those who have a free account, but a new meeting can be restarted easily.

What the moms (and children) have found out is that online meetings work best with fewer people (5-7). While it has its limitations, it is still a great option to keep face-to-face connections with not just friends, but keep connections or reconnect with families in other places.

Based on the success of this meeting and a few (jealous!) male siblings, the boys also plan to start Zoom playdates.

*names have been changed to protect privacy

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