From Yoga Class to ‘Trolls,’ Making the Most of Quarantine and Family Time with Xfinity
COVID-19 has changed how we learn, work, and play. Xfinity is making that easier.
Working from home while trying to maintain kids’ academic and emotional well-being is not something that any of us signed up for. It is an adjustment and balancing act. Our living room has become not just our entertainment center but also our classroom, our office, and our window to the outside world. This comes with its own set of challenges; but we think about how different this experience would be if this were 20—or even 10—years ago, and we feel incredibly grateful.
We are apart, but we are more connected than ever. We are able to check in with family, friends, and coworkers every minute. Within seconds, we can talk into a voice remote and pull up a movie, a story time, even a craft activity. Technology has helped us maintain—albeit in different forms—our jobs, our relationships, and our children’s education. We are inspired by the creativity, generosity, and determination that has emerged from this crisis: companies pivoting to move business online and opening up resources to help those sheltering in place.
Since our internet connection has essentially become our lifeline through all of this, we reached out to Comcast to learn what Xfinity is doing to make our lives easier (and more fun) while in quarantine including tips, resources and more.
1. Educational Resources On Demand
“We know how challenging it is for families right now who are suddenly homeschooling young children – many with both parents working, as well,” said Rebecca Heap, SVP of Video & Entertainment at Comcast. In response to this new challenge, Comcast has teamed up with partners like Common Sense Media to make thousands of hours of educational programming and resources available through Xfinity on Demand (as well as on Xfinity Flex and across devices via the Xfinity Stream app and website). “The programming selected in partnership with Common Sense Media is available in one comprehensive destination organized by grade level to make it as easy as possible for parents to find what is most relevant to their family,” Heap describes.
Comcast has enlisted the guidance of Natascha Crandall, Ph.D., a psychologist and educator to program the content across English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies based on grade-appropriate guidelines aligned with the current U.S. school curriculum. Xfinity customers with X1 or Flex can say “Education” into the Xfinity Voice Remote to access content available to them by grade level.
Older kids can delve into the HISTORY Vault, the Great Courses Signature Collection, and CuriosityStream to access everything from nature documentaries to Spanish courses, which can supplement their coursework in different mediums.
Meanwhile, younger kids (ages 10 and under) can catch themed story time on The Reading Corner or read along on Tumblebooks. We’ve also enjoyed the “How To Make” craft videos in Curious World. Of course, favorite educational shows from Kids Room, PBS Kids, and Nick Jr., which are also included in this free education destination, have been a welcome break in our “homeschool” experience as well. With Hulu being integrated into the Xfinity X1 and Flex platforms, this means (among other things), we can watch every single episode of personal favorite Curious George, which has taught our daughter a surprisingly large and enduring amount of STEM concepts over the years. And we don’t even have to change TV inputs.
2. More Free Content
If you have Xfinity, say “Free” into your Xfinity Voice Remote—you’ll notice the choices have multiplied. Comcast has made the on-demand catalogs from a series of premium networks and subscription video on demand (SVOD) services available for Xfinity X1 and Flex customers as well. This includes 30 days free of SHOWTIME and EPIX for movies and series, plus Grokker Yoga Fitness and Wellbeing to keep you balanced. Educational services mentioned above like HISTORY, CuriosityStream, The Kids Room, and The Reading Corner are also all on free trial for at least 30 days right now. There’s even content for your dogs on DOGTV!
Xfinity plans to open up more preview content from dozens of new networks, studios and streaming partners on a rolling basis over the coming weeks. “This is an unprecedented time and we want to be there for our customers to help make the time they’re spending at home easier with free previews from our network, studio and streaming partners,” says Heap. Fun fact: Comcast found a nearly 50% increase in Voice Remote requests for “free movies” since March 1!
3. Trolls and other Movies!
One of the bright spots of our quarantine was definitely the release of DreamWorks’ Trolls World Tour. We had been looking forward to the sequel for months and planned to go see it over Spring Break. While that clearly did not go as planned, we were so excited to learn that Universal Pictures decided to keep its release date but make the movie available On Demand.
We had a blast singing and dancing along with Poppy and her new friends and have watched the movie an embarrassing number of times in our 48-hour rental window. To make the in-home movie more of a special experience, we downloaded the free 44-page Trolls Party Pack with coloring pages, decorations, printable prop crafts, recipes, and more! For the especially musically inclined, the free materials even include sheet music and a printable glitter microphone to put together. You can also visit DreamWorks’ YouTube to learn how to draw different Trolls characters.
For adults, other Universal Pictures releases like Emma, The Hunt, and The Invisible Man are also available On Demand now, and the company will consider this for future releases, given the current unique situation that prohibits us from going to theaters.
4. Balancing and Monitoring Screen Time
With kids embarking on distance learning, and parents trying to balance this while working from home, screen time limits have become somewhat relaxed for many of us. I’ll be honest with you, Queen Poppy of the Pop Trolls may or may not count as a guardian to our daughter at this point.
But while we all may be using our devices way more than we used to, it is still good to set limits and have some semblance of a schedule. Xfinity has built free parental control tools into xFi via a digital dashboard, so parents can easily monitor when and how long their kids are online. You can make a profile for each kid, and “Create a Downtime Schedule” with icons like bedtime, homework, or dinner to craft a daily schedule and set limits for online time.
Parents can also use xFi timed alerts to monitor how long kids are on their devices during the day, extending where needed to ensure they have the online hours they need to connect with teachers and classmates and complete homework. Meanwhile, you also use this feature to hit pause on the devices in your home to free up time with family without digital distractions. Even with all these incredible digital resources at our fingertips, the space to connect with each other is invaluable.
5. Staying Connected
With all of us working and learning from home, have you wondered if the Internet can hold up? We asked and Xfinity tells us that while usage is on the rise, it’s been well within the capability of their network. How? They are constantly maintaining and investing in their network and typically work 12-18 months ahead of anticipated demand. They even found some interesting shifts in usage since March 1 including peak usage time, like when most people are watching TV or streaming, went from 9 pm to between 7 and 8 pm, and video conferencing usage is up 212%! And, with all the kids at home, gaming downloads are up 50% too.
Beyond the resources shared here, Comcast rolled out a comprehensive COVID-19 response plan to help all families stay connected during this difficult time including opening Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the country to anyone who needs them for free (including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers) and making its Internet Essentials program free for new families for the first 60 days of enrollment. Learn more, here.
Photographs courtesy of Xfinity/Comcast. Comcast supports the Philly Family Community.