TECH BYTE: Tech to Help You Stay in Touch

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Even though many businesses are reopening, most of us are still spending a lot of time at home.

It’s still harder to see most friends and family – at least in person.

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“It helps to bridge that communication gap that a lot of us are dealing with right now,” said Nathan Roach, General Manager for Best Buy’s Hamilton Place store.

Thanks to technology, staying in touch with your loved ones is easier now more than ever, especially when you can’t leave your house.

Roach recommends the Google Home Hub if you want to see your friends virtually.

“At night, instead of having the face to face conversation, you can literally sit down, have a video call, chat, catch up, and things like that, and you don’t miss that face to face time, which is really good,” Roach said.

Roach says you have plenty of options for video chatting.

If you have any Apple products, like an iPhone or iPad, you can always use FaceTime.

You can also do video calling on the Amazon Echo Show.

“Facebook even has a video calling device called the Portal that a lot of people are getting to be able to not only browse through Facebook, but you can video call your friends, family, whatever it may be, and you can even put it on your TV if you don’t want a separate device in your house,” he said.

Most of these are stand-alone devices.

“It makes it super easy. It actually pops up like a phone call on the screen, so you’ll know if Grandma or Grandpa is calling, or whoever it may be, and you can answer it just like a phone call.”

And yes, you do have to have WiFi to use these devices, since you’re streaming video. But if you’re not tech savvy, Roach says it’s easy to set up.

“A lot of times it’s just as simple as, as long as you know your network name and password, you type in a couple quick credentials, you’ll be online in no time, and making calls in less than five minutes,” Roach said.

If you don’t want to necessarily buy a new device, there are plenty of free apps you can download to talk to people virtually.

Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts are just some of many that are good to have.

You can always invest in a webcam, if you don’t already have one on your computer, as well.

Roach says it’s good to be creative to stay connected in difficult times like these.

It makes a big difference in your mental health to still be able to see your loved ones, even if it’s not in person.

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You can watch Emily Cassulo weeknights on News 12 Now at 6 and Prime News at 7. Emily also does stories on different tech products and issues for Tech Byte, which airs Mondays on News 12 Now. She joined the WDEF news team in September 2016 from News 12’s sister station in Columbus, Mississippi, where she worked as an anchor, producer and reporter. Emily is no stranger to the Volunteer State. Before moving to Mississippi, she worked at WBBJ-TV, covering crime and severe weather throughout West Tennessee. She loves living in Chattanooga, and exploring what the Scenic City has to offer. Emily is a Florida native, graduating from the University of Central Florida with a degree in broadcast journalism and minor in political science. While in college, Emily worked part-time as a reporter/web producer at News/Talk 96.5 WDBO. She broke her first news story there, which made national headlines, and covered the 2010 Central Florida congressional elections and the high-profile Casey Anthony trial. When she’s not busy reporting, Emily enjoys shopping, reading, playing the piano, and spending time with family and friends. Feel free to e-mail her at ecassulo@wdef.com if you have any story ideas or just want to say ‘Hi.’