Social distancing doesn’t mean that socializing, and the need for the socializing, suddenly disappears. For everyone, and specifically the older population, socialization is necessary to live a healthy, happy life, and can help seniors age better and live longer.
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Thanks to live streaming technology, socialization is helping individuals stay social while staying healthy, and for seniors in particular, enabling them to stay engaged with their community and network, while keeping social distance.
One of the most popular of those activities is bingo, across ages and countries (whether or not you get Matthew McConaughey to join you)! At televëda, bingo was one of our most requested classes to get all-online immediately. Bingo keeps your mind active, boosts your physical health, and creates a time for socialization where players can have fun and make friends. And when it’s virtual, all these benefits come from the safety of your homes.
Bingo isn’t just a simple game for seniors. Check out these awesome benefits:
Hitting all aspects of your health, bingo (whether it’s virtual or in person) is the way to go! Bingo already made the transition to the online world before social distancing made it necessary, but some of your seniors may not have had this virtual experience yet. By following these virtual bingo guidelines, you’ll help seniors embrace technology, make friends, and have fun!
To begin your online bingo game, you’ll need to get online! No matter what live stream platform you’re using, there are a few things to be aware of when planning an online bingo game for older adults.
1. Audio: Audio quality matters for any streaming event, but especially when it’s for senior citizens. Your viewers may be hard of hearing, so make sure they can hear you and others well, and have a way of notifying you if the audio quality has degraded.
It’s also important to decide how you want to moderate the audio of players. If you have a large group, or any group, muting your players can help everyone hear the numbers as they’re called, but can limit interaction. So, finding a balance between running a game smoothly, and keeping your audience engaged, is important.
When calling numbers, we suggest announcing the call, and then stating each of the number separately. For example, I-19, call: "I, 19. I, one, nine."
2. Video: Determining how to share the numbers with your players is important. For one, you can just announce it after you pull a physical ball from a real bingo set. In that case, audio is incredibly important here (see above)!
You can also use a simple whiteboard to write out the numbers as they’re announced. This may be helpful for those that are hard of hearing.
Or, you can use a free online bingo player, like Let's Play Bingo! Let's Play Bingo shows all the calls as they come up, the last 5 calls, and auto-calling. Let's Play Bingo is a great online option that makes it easier for you to manage the bingo game, and for seniors to see the numbers as they're called. Win-win!
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Whatever you choose to do here, just make sure it’s visible!
3. Platform: It’s important both you and your players know how to use whatever platform you’ve chosen to host your game. There are pros and cons of many of them, so do a little research before you start. It needs to be senior-friendly, and there can be some particulars to that.
We make sure to balance heightened security with ease of use, so that seniors are comfortable using our technology. We're able to share the Let's Play Bingo screen, while also interacting with each of our seniors.
To play bingo successfully, you need your materials, and you need to make sure your seniors do too!
You’ll need a bingo set, so you can roll and choose the balls, or an online bingo player. They will need printable bingo cards, and either a maker, set of chips, or even coins they can reuse. They’ll also need access to free bingo card sites so they can print them out, or the staff as their community can.
Though having a large group is great, a game with more manageable sizes will be more fun and engaging because it keeps it intimate and allows for conversation and friendship creation. You don’t want seniors to feel overwhelmed, or intimidated to join in because of the group size, so keep that in mind with organizing your virtual bingo games.
Multiple games of the week or at different times of the day can be a good idea to manage game size, as well as give players different options to join based on their schedule.
Using large call-ins, such as through Zoom for example, you may have to mute everyone to keep the audio down, which definitely makes it tough for someone to announce “Bingo!” We suggest that if you do mute your players, make sure to let them know how to alert you if they give bingo, and then unmute everyone so they can celebrate together when someone wins!
Prizes are more challenging with online games, but make sure to congratulate the winners. At televëda, we do social media shoutouts to show our support and how proud we are of our players!
We also give prizes each month to the most wins, the biggest smile, or the sassiest player! Important: if you’re giving out gift cards or any other money-based prizes, make sure you are complying with local gambling laws to keep you and your players safe!
Ready to host your own online bingo game right now? Or want to play with us? televëda hosts our bingo games every week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 1 pm MST. Sign up yourself or a loved one today for our two-week free trial, and join us to have fun and make friends at our virtual bingo game for seniors!
One last note: it’s important to make your virtual bingo game engaging, exciting, and personalized. Keep the energy high, make eye contact through the camera, and use your participants’ names if you can.
The point of virtual bingo for seniors is to keep them socializing and having fun. And, they get all those great physical and mental benefits we talked about!