Bored at home: Streaming concerts, virtual classes and 6 other ways to stay connected

Being in quarantine doesn't mean sacrificing human contact, just tweaking it a bit.

Shelby Brown Editor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
  • She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
Shelby Brown
5 min read

Staying connected with your smartphone probably doesn't surprise you. 

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It's finally summer, and many people are still working or studying from home while the coronavirus pandemic continues. Even as businesses in some states begin to open back up, practicing social distancing is still a necessity. But that doesn't mean you have to be solitary, even if you're still staying at home most of the time. 

Musicians are livestreaming concerts. Religious organizations are streaming worship services. Friends are hosting virtual happy hours. You can even set up your own virtual book club. With a little creativity and technology, there are a lot of ways to stay connected with the community in the summer weeks to come.

Stream a concert or opera

Since the US government first encouraged social distancing to slow the spread of the illness back in March, performers have been trying to find a way to share their art. Artists such as PinkColdplay's Chris Martin, Keith Urban, Death Cab for Cutie's Ben GibbardRob Thomas and John Legend have streamed live concerts on Instagram and YouTube -- many of which are still available to watch. Another nice thing about the streams when you catch them live is that you can often chat with others who are watching and leave comments for the performers, too, as another way to connect. 

John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images

The Grammy Museum put some of its recorded Q&A performances online from artists like Billie Eilish, Brandi Carlile and Greta Van Fleet. The initial rollout included nine artists. All of the sessions were filmed in the 200-seat Clive Davis Theater inside the museum, located in the LA Live complex, according to a report from Variety. Plus the Metropolitan Opera has streams of performances every night on its website

Animal Crossing, anyone? 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out on Nintendo Switch on March 20. Players immersed themselves in all aspects of peaceful island life -- Tom Nook included. The game's social aspect has been a way to make social distancing a bit easier. Players have even taken the game to another level and begun decorating their homes to look like a tropical island getaway. Simple in-game actions like growing fruit, planting flowers, exploring, designing rooms and spending time with friends can be comforting to players. 

Plus, an update to Animal Crossing: New Horizons is coming on Friday, adding the ability to swim, dive and collect sea creatures. 

Read more: 17 best Animal Crossing: New Horizon tips for Nintendo Switch

Explore the endless possibilities of video chat

If you're working from home you might use video chat apps like Skype, Zoom and Google Meet for meetings. Set up virtual lunches, happy hours or open mic nights, or just catch-ups with friends and family. Video chats via Facebook Messenger Rooms, Google Duo on an Android, and FaceTime on an iPhone are also good ways to keep in touch with family whom you might not be able to visit while social distancing. 

FaceTime grupal

FaceTime is an easy way to feel like you're together.

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Read more: 10 free Zoom alternative apps for video chat app

Find a pen pal in a nursing home

Sometimes it's about making others feel less alone. With social distancing, some older people in nursing homes might not understand why their families aren't visiting. Reachout America has a seniors pen pal program that's easy to sign up for. You can also reach out to your local senior or nursing home and see what programs are available

Take a virtual class

Having extra time means you can learn something new or teach a skill to someone else. Video chat services and social media livestreaming can be helpful resources. When people started practicing social distancing, some of my friends offered to teach classes, like how to crochet, for example, via video chat. You can also find free courses and lectures from Harvard (yes, the Harvard) or browse a list of online classes from other universities on Coursera

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Also, though it's not technically a class, you can check out a new educational game from NASA. In NeMO-Net, a game for Mac and iOS, players can virtually travel the ocean floor in a vessel called the Nautilus, identifying and classifying whatever coral they come across. The cool part is that when you play the game, you're actually helping NASA with its data and research. The game aids in training the Pleiades supercomputer at Ames to recognize corals from any image of the ocean floor. 

Check out our roundups on online classes for learning to play guitar, learning to code and learning to draw

Read more: 5 Masterclass classes to become a filmmaker: Learn from Martin Scorsese, Jodie Foster and more  

Work out with work-ins

Gym memberships and exercising with friends are another way people stay social. Planet Fitness is livestreaming free "work-ins" every day at 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET) on Facebook Live. The home workouts are also available on the gym's Instagram. If you're more of a yoga person, lots of studios and instructors are doing livestreams of classes, which you can search for on Twitter (or check with your local studio for resources). 

On Instagram, celebrities are getting in on it too. Keep an eye out for fitness classes from trainer Jackelyn Ho, a meditation video from Grammy winner Lizzo and instructional cooking videos from Queer Eye's Antoni Porowski on IGTV. 

Read more: 10 ways to enrich, entertain yourself from home

Tim Kitchen/Getty Images

Stream religious services

Weekly gatherings in a place of worship with others are a special time for many. It's worth checking if your place of worship has a livestream on its website. You might be able to find sermon recordings or podcasts as well. If not, there are multiple places you can look online for religious services during this time of social distancing. 

Christian World Media livestreams services. You can view schedules, set notifications for when a service is about to start and browse older sermons and bible studies. New York's Central Synagogue streams services like Shabbat and interfaith services. The center has ways to join by phone and TV, and has a podcast available. The Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam is streaming weekly Jumah prayer. Catholic services and Mass are also available online on Catholic TV

Read more: Religious apps to help you go to church while socially distancing

JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Live podcasts and radio

Podcasts were already a nice way to feel less lonely, in my opinion. With more people at home, podcasts alone might be a temporary cure to silence. Be on the lookout -- your favorite show might host a special live episode. The social media pages for podcasts are another way to feel connected, especially with other fans of the show. Either way, you can find a number of bingeworthy podcasts on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Music, Google Play and iHeartRadio. Old-fashioned radio -- or internet radio -- is another way to feel connected, especially if it's a local station. 

More ways to stay safe and busy

Watch this: Great online education and distance learning services for kids stuck at home