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Managing social relationships in social isolation

The government and health authorities are calling on all of us to reduce social contacts at this time in order to slow down the progress of the Covid-19 or coronavirus epidemic. However, this can pose challenges to maintaining different social relationships.

Fortunately, you do not have to rely solely on phone calls and SMS. In this article, we have collected tips on different online services and other ways to maintain social relationships, even though you may not be in the same place. So hopefully, these will be fun ways to communicate and enjoy with friends and family.

The services listed below are mainly free of charge, but any restrictions on the free version are mentioned for each service.

Video Call Services

There are many different types of video call services available today, each with its own pros and cons. Below, we've outlined a few that are widely or completely free to use on a variety of devices, and can be used for video calls with more than two people. In addition, there is a plethora of only one-to-one video calling and paid services available. Read more about video calling at Yle Digitreenit.

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger is a FREE mobile messaging app used for instant messaging, sharing photos, videos, audio recordings and for group chats. Messenger works both on your computer in the browser and as an application on mobile devices. The app, which is free to download, can be used to communicate with your friends on Facebook and with your phone contacts. You need a Facebook account to use Messenger. Learn more about Messenger and how to start a video chat.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is Google's instant messaging service that allows you to send instant messages and make voice and video calls. You can use Google Hangouts on both your computer and mobile devices. Video calls can be made up to 10 people at a time, provided you have a regular Gmail account. Access requires a free Google Account for all participants. Get started with Hangouts.


Jitsi is a video call service that can be used on a computer using a browser, or by downloading an application to a computer or mobile device. Using Jitsi is completely free and you can start a video call without registering. Other contributors can be invited via a link. Jitsi also has many other features, but the basic operation is very simple.


Skype is Microsofts instant messaging service that allows you to send instant messages and make voice and video calls. You can use Skype on your PC, mobile, or xBox One.

Ideas for Video Calling with Kids


Many families currently can’t see their grandparents because of the risk of face to face disease, but that does not mean that children and grandparents cannot see each other. For example, a video call allows children to read fairy tales. And the fairytale reader doesn't have to be a grandparent, but any adult close to the child can read the fairy tale.

Play Dates

Kids' play dates don't always have to be in the same place - try video play dates too. Children can easily give up on new situations and soon they may have new ways of playing together, each in their own home.

Things to do together

Although friends or family cannot be gathered in the same living room, it is still possible for them to play games or watch a movie together. Some services allow you to send instant messages or make a video call to others at the same time, but in some cases it may be an idea to use a different communication channel to chat.

Board Game Arena

On this English page you can play dozens of different board games in real time with friends or against strangers. There is also a selection of very popular games like Carcassonne and it teaches you how to play each game in clear steps. Access is mainly free, but some additional features require a paid Premium account. The site is accessed from a browser on a computer or mobile device.


Steam is a video game distribution, multiplayer and communication platform. Most of the games on Steam are paid, but there are also plenty of free games that you can play alone or with others. This search is limited to free multiplayer games.

Catan Universe & Dominion

These two popular board games can be played online with friends.

Catan Universe can be played in a browser or mobile application. It contains different versions of the board game, but initially only certain parts are available, such as the original Settlers of Catan. Other parts can be purchased for use either with real money or with in-game collection of merits.

Dominion is played in a browser and is basic, but add-ons are only available for a fee.


Watching videos and movies together

There are many free services online that allow you to watch videos from different video services in sync with others. Typically, all services will be able to watch at least YouTube videos, but depending on the service, other sites and even streaming services can be viewed through them. The services are both free, partially free and paid. Here are links to a few mainly free services that you can use in your browser: Watch2getherMy Circle TVKast (requires registration),Sync VideoGaze (only for 2).

Netflix Party

Although Netflix Party itself is free, it requires a valid Netflix subscription to work. Nonetheless, Netflix Party is well worth introducing as it allows you to watch Netflix movies and TV shows remotely at the same time. Netflix Party is an extension of the Google Chrome browser, which requires that all participants use the Chrome browser.

Photo: Unsplash/Alexander Dummer