Staying safe during this year’s virtual Thanksgiving

Published: Nov. 26, 2020 at 8:50 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Thanksgiving is going to look and feel a little different this year with a ban on social gatherings, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see your family.

“This whole holiday is an experiment for all of us being virtual, and it is interesting to see how it goes,” said Narine Hall, a professor of data science and computer science at Champlain College.

Familiar faces, in a whole new platform.

Many families are opting for a virtual Thanksgiving this year, so many are trying new communication spaces for the first time.

“I think right now we have really good alternatives, where we can connect in virtual spaces and hang out with our family. It’s still the same laughs, it’s still the same people,” said Hall.

Hall started her own online communication platform called InSpace.

She says a lot of online meetings can be done right from your phone but all require patience. She recommends trying out different platforms and testing them beforehand so you know their features.

Hall also says usage now could lead to better communication between families spread apart.

“If we start something new, hanging out in virtual spaces, there is a chance we can hang out more often, more frequently and see each other more,” said Hall.

There are even games that can be played over the internet for entertainment. But trying something for the first time means doing it safely.

“This is a way to include those people, but still be safe,” said Aimee Nolan, a detective sergeant with the Vermont State Police.

She says State Police are encouraging people to use online spaces safely.

She recommends using passwords, being conservative with meeting links, disabling features allowing other people into meetings first and designating one person as the host.

She even says if people are comfortable it can help to have a recording.

“That’s a benefit to having the recording in case a disruption does occur,” said Nolan.

Nolan says if you have any reason to believe there was a crime committed, you can contact your local police to file a report.

“If you are in the middle of the meeting and someone does jump in or engage in any kind of disruptive behavior, you can remove that person and then you can report the problem,” said Hall.

Giving it a chance today can lead to a more connected family tomorrow.

“The technology is getting better and I think we are going to see better and better ways for people to connect virtually when they have to,” said Hall.

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