Technology connects students while social distancing

Online applications and extensions, such as the Google Chrome extension Netflix Party, are connecting friends and family even as they quarantine separately. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

By Elisabeth George | Reporter

While social distancing is keeping people physically apart from friends and family, Baylor students found ways to keep connected and interact with their loved ones from afar.

Round Rock, senior Alex Medina said she had been using the Netflix Party chrome extension for a while before the quarantine started. The chrome extension is available to download for free, and does not have a limit as to how many people can join and watch.

“You have to have a Netflix account… and you log on and just play [the movie] at the same time. We would have a chat option on, like we could talk about things that were like, ‘Oh, you know, that was weird’ or, ‘Oh my gosh, that really scared me’,” Medina said.

Along with the chat option Medina said she and her friend initially tried to call each other to talk in person while their show was playing.

“We tried to call, but the thing was, it would create a, like a speech jammer, because the audio from Netflix is playing in the background so it was like you were getting both the video and the person talking, so you couldn’t hear what you were watching,” Medina said. “It was really distracting so we would have to [use the] chat on the side.”

Median said she and her friend eventually decided to Skype while they watched and it worked a lot better, without the sound feedback.

Other similar extensions are available for a variety of websites. Youtube Party Plus can be purchased in the chrome web store and works to stream Disney + as well.

Kast is also a downloadable video sharing app similar to the chrome extensions. However, it also has video sharing capabilities as well as voice, text, and video chats. The app was formerly known as but changed domains in July 2019.

Another way Baylor students have been spending time with friends and family is through video games. Platforms such as Steam provide a way to purchase games (or download them for free) and play them with friends online.

Brownsville, senior Sammy Amaro said for the past couple weeks she has been playing video games from home with her sister, who is in Las Vegas. One of the games she has been playing is the popular video game, Animal Crossing.

“I’ve actually been using the [Animal Crossing] app, but I caved and ordered the [Nintendo] Switch and the game a few days ago… I’ve been seeing everyone talk about the game so it made me really interested,” Amaro said.

Since she recently returned home to stay with her parents, Amaro said all of her video game consoles had been packed. However, even though it’s been sold out everywhere, Amaro said she managed to find a Nintendo Switch console for sale.

“I found it on Best Buy, surprisingly. I’d checked the store days before and everything was sold out. And then by chance I found myself on the website a few days later, and the color I really liked had been restocked,” Amaro said.

Medina also said she has been wanting to play the video game, but hasn’t been able to find one for sale.

“When Pokemon GO came out, it was like, getting people together. So, you know, during this time where we all need to be socially distant from each other, [Animal Crossing] has been keeping people together,” Medina said. “I have friends who have that game right now, and I really want to get it right now, but I feel bad for the Amazon workers.”