Alexa Tricks for a Halloween Treat 

By Tracey Dowdy

‘Tis the season – for ghosts, goblins, and sugar highs. And while we love our smart-home devices year-round, Alexa can really shine at Halloween. From spooky sounds to trivia night, these Alexa skills can make your Halloween boo-tiful. 

  • Set the mood by saying, “Alexa, play Halloween music,” or link your Spotify and choose from one of the zillion music or sound effect playlists
  • Use one of Alexa’s many scream skills to scare the daylights out of trick or treaters. Bonus, it’s also great for repelling door to door solicitation and political campaign volunteers. 
  • Ghost Detector uses “highly advanced technology” to detect spirits and specters and allows you to catch one ghost per day. As you earn in-game currency, Ghost Bux, you’ll soon be able to unlock gadgets, missions, and adventures. 
  • If your little one has yet to master the meaning of a calendar, let Alexa handle the question, “How many more sleeps until Halloween?” Just say “Alexa, open Halloween Countdown,” and thank the robot gods for one less question to answer. 
  • Check out the ultimate Halloween trivia quiz. Alexa will test your knowledge of both familiar and obscure facts. 
  • Still haven’t settled on a costume? Use Alexa’s Halloween Costume Ideas skill to narrow down those options. 
  • Alexa’s Haunted House is a choose-your-own-adventure for kids or adults that takes you through a haunted house on – what else? – a dark and stormy Halloween night. Because you control the story based on your choices, you can have multiple adventures. 
  • If you’re up for a challenge, try an Escape Room. Just tell Alexa to “Open the escape room,” and you’ll have your choice of escaping from jail, an office, or a car. Using voice commands, you can search the room, solve puzzles, inspect or pick up items, and see what your options are. The clock is ticking – can you escape in time? 
  • Halloween Feel the Pressure is a family game that asks a spooky question based on a specific letter of the alphabet. Questions get more challenging as you progress through the game, and you’ll need ten correct answers to win. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Halloween Music for Kids

By Tracey Dowdy

 

We all know that Halloween will look different this year, but different doesn’t necessarily mean lame or no fun. Whether you’re hosting a virtual Halloween party, want a playlist for your socially-distanced trick or treating plans, or just want to set the mood while you hang out at home, this playlist of kid-friendly music will hit the right notes. 

Best for preschoolers

Who Took the Candy? by Super Simple Songs is part of a catalog of fun and not-so-spooky songs for littles. 

Bumps in the Night takes kids on a spooky adventure with Mr. Whirly, as he sings about the mysterious sounds kids hear at night and how they don’t need to be afraid. 

Caspar Babypants’ Skeletone, a silly skeleton, uses his bones as a musical instrument.

Halloween Sharks by Pinkfong puts a holiday twist on Baby Shark. I apologize in advance for the earworm your kids will love, and you’ll endure. 

You kids will love shaking their booty and roaring along with Laurie Berkner and the monsters in Monster Boogie

Lucy Kalantari has lots of fun and slightly spooky songs for kids – check out It’s Halloween; Flick of My Wrist; Haunting Days of Halloween.  

Kids may be scared of the monsters that come out when they sleep, but Under My Bed by Recess Monkey takes the spooky away.

There’s never been and never will be a groovier monster than the Purple People Eater by Sheb Wooley.

Grammy winners (Family Hip Hop) Secret Agent 23 Skidoo will have your littles up and moving with their funky Halloween hit, Ain’t No Party Like Halloween

Your littles will howl at the moon with laughter, trying to master the “oo-ee-ah-ah-ah’s” sung by the chipmunks in Witch Doctor by David Seville. 

 

For Older Kids and Teens

Jack White (White Stripes) embraces his inner ghoul-like never before in Little Ghost

Introduce your kids to a pre-TikTok dance craze with the Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett. Score bonus points by having them watch the video of his live performance and see his wild facial expressions. Eat your heart out, Jim Carrey! 

DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince rap a ghost story? Keep talking. I’m listening. Check out A Nightmare on My Street.  

What can I say? The seventies were wild, and apparently, werewolves roamed the streets – at least according to Warren Zevon in Werewolves of London.

Speaking of the seventies, it doesn’t get much better than old school Stevie Wonder. Superstition is the perfect addition to this playlist. 

Is there a better song lyric than Ghostbusters’ “I ain’t afraid of no ghost?” Of course not. Thanks, Ray Parker Jr. 

The Harry Potter franchise is full of possibilities for this playlist, but Hedwig’s Theme and Double Trouble have to top the list. Actually, just go ahead and add the Harry Potter Complete Soundtrack Playlist. 

How do you choose between People Are Strange by Echo and the Bunnymen or The Doors? You don’t – both are great. 

Lana del Rey’s version of Season of the Witch is creepy enough to be included on the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark soundtrack, although it’s hard to beat the original by Donovan

Get that red lipstick on and do the Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s just a jump to the left and then a step to the right. With your hand on your hips, you bring your knees in tight. But it’s the pelvic thrust – They really drive you insane.

The Theme from Halloween starts eerily and builds to a wild crescendo. Even if you’ve never seen the movie, you’re guaranteed to be spooked. 

I Put a Spell on You is the greatest Halloween song tucked inside the greatest Halloween movie ever. There’s no room for argument. 

Rockwell’s Somebody’s Watching Me is graced by a slick Thriller-style sample courtesy of Micheal Jackson. Being Motown founder Barry Gordy’s son probably helped with that.  

Suppose you’re looking for a weird song about a creepy-crawly spider being crushed by a book, then Boris the Spider by The Who ticks every box. Good luck getting John Entwistle’s gravely growl out of your head. 

Speaking of voices to narrate your nightmares, James Hetfield is happy to help through Enter Sandman – Metallica at it’s scariest. 

Could any list ever be complete without Thriller by Michael Jackson? The answer is no. 

You just know that a song that starts with sassy snapping fingers is going to be good. Take it away, Addams Family.  

Even though the show has been off the air since the seventies and your kids have no idea who Herman and Lily are, the Theme from The Munsters has the perfect vibe. 

There you go! Have a spooktacular time!

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Alternatives to Trick or Treating 

By Tracey Dowdy

By most accounts, Halloween is 2020’s latest victim. The CDC has posted their Holiday Celebration guidelines to recommend that you not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters. Some areas have canceled trick or treating because of the pandemic. 

Whether you’ve decided not to trick or treat because you don’t feel comfortable with the possibility of exposing your family or even if that decision has been made for you, there are still safe ways to have fun with your little monsters on Halloween. 

Boo your friends.  

Instead of going to a friend’s or a neighbor’s house to get candy, drop off some treats! Choose mini pumpkins, Halloween decorations, stickers, pencils, packaged candy, or treats. Do a quick ding dong dash and leave the surprise at their door. You can make it an anonymous note and encourage them to pass the fun along to others. *Note, some people are wary of home-baked goods right now, so stick to pre-packaged items if you’re unsure. 

Go on a ghost hunt. 

Ever been on a ghost hunt? Sound too scary? Not if you put a twist on an Easter Egg hunt and instead hide little ghosts around your house. Wrap candy or other Halloween themed treats in tissue paper, gather it around the candy or prize, tie it with a little orange ribbon, and draw a friendly little ghost face on it. Double the fun by turning down the lights and searching with a flashlight or adding glowsticks to the “ghost’s” hiding place. 

Go on a spooky scavenger hunt. 

Instead of going house to house, hide treats and prizes around your home, outside, or at a nearby trail. Give your little goblin clues and help them search for the items. If you’re searching in the dark, inexpensive glow sticks go a long way in making the hunt more fun.

Host a virtual Halloween party. 

Though the thought of anything involving screen time may make you scream, a virtual Halloween party can help fill in some of the socialization and unstructured friend-time your little witch or wizard is missing. Coordinate with family or friends, wear costumes, and have a “best costume” contest, do a Halloween themed craft, decorate cookies, carve pumpkins, or even watch a spooky movie “together.”  Here’s a list of age-appropriate choices.  

Do a trick or treat drive-by – think of it as reverse trick or treating. 

Instead of kids going house to house, talk to your neighbors about setting a specific time for kids to wait in their front yards and have adults drive by and gently toss candy or treat bags to them. 

Tell ghost stories.  

Remember being at camp when you were a kid, sitting around a fire, telling ghost stories? Recreate that feeling around a fire pit or even a flashlight. Tell your favorite – age-appropriate obviously – spooky or silly Halloween stories, and encourage your littles to make one up to share too. Drink some apple cider, eat caramel apples, or dip into your candy stash, and have a good old’ device-free frighteningly good time. 

Halloween will certainly be different for little ones this year, but remember, your children mirror your attitudes. If you complain and mope about Halloween being ruined this year, your kids will pick up on that and have a miserable evening. If however, you decide that different can still be fun, there’s no end to the memories you can make.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Talk To Your Kids About Online Predators

By Tracey Dowdy

Trigger Warning: Links contain sensitive information

If anything has defined 2020, it’s excess screen time for our children. They’ve been online more often and for more extended periods, becoming more familiar and comfortable with the wild west of the internet. As a result, some are beginning to push boundaries and explore what’s out there. While that’s not in itself a bad thing, there are risks, particularly regarding online predators. According to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, there’s been a 200 percent increase in online sexual predator cases during the pandemic.

Louisiana Internet Crimes against Children Commander Corey Bourgeois said, “Parents are saying hey go do this, go play Fortnite, go play on your IPad, go play Xbox so your parents can work, and I believe that that led to a lot, a lot more solicitation of minors.”

Last year, Sloan Ryan wrote a piece for Medium (Trigger warning – the article contains graphic information), exposing the prevalence of online predation. As the frontline of defense for our children, it’s our responsibility to educate and protect them. Age-appropriate conversations and parental controls about how predators operate in the digital age can help keep your children safe online and in real life. 

Predators are everywhere.  Most parents know that social media and chat rooms can be a minefield, but what you may not know is that predators lurk in unexpected places like Bible appsFitbit chatrooms, even FortniteMinecraftClash of Clans, and Roblox chatrooms. Ensure you have all parental controls in place and encourage your children to talk to you if someone says something or if they see something that makes them uncomfortable. 

Abuse can happen online as well as in person.  Abuse doesn’t need to be in-person. Children can be traumatized by images, conversations, or videos. This distress can lead to mental health issues like anxiety and depression or manifest physically through insomnia, gastrointestinal distress, and eating disorders. Keep online devices in common areas where you can see what’s happening, and if necessary, consider installing additional parental control software to limit access to the internet. 

Talk to your kids about warning signs.  Predators groom children before they take advantage of them. It begins with friendship, then moves to a more intimate relationship. Perpetrators then engage in conversations to help determine how vulnerable and isolated a child is – the more vulnerable, the more likely the relationship will become abusive. Be aware that once the child has become a victim, the abuser will use gas-lighting, threats, and crushing the victim’s self-esteem to maintain the relationship. 

How do I talk about predators with my child?  If your child is old enough to be online, they’re old enough to have conversations about safety. An excellent place to start is by setting up a Family Technology Contract. Once you’ve agreed to boundaries and the consequences of crossing the line, talk about what to look out for. Remind them not to share any personal information like their name, address, or their school. Talk about the risks and the importance of telling you if someone says or does something that upsets them. Assure them they won’t be in trouble if someone else has done something wrong. 

If they have been victimized, stay calm. While this is an emotional and traumatic experience for both of you, your child needs to know they are safe and loved at home. Don’t blame yourself, and don’t panic. Do NOT reach out or try to confront the predator yourself – they’ll disappear and make it much harder for law enforcement to track them down. Instead, save or take screenshots of any messages and images they’ve sent – don’t delete. Block them so they can’t make further contact and immediately report them on any platform where they interacted with your child. Report the offender to local authorities and the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTipline

If you or your child need additional support, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or chat online.  Or, call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-4-A-CHILD (2-24453). 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Keep Your Kids Motivated for Virtual Learning

By Tracey Dowdy

If your little Einstein leaps out of bed, humming with excitement over sitting in a virtual classroom all day, this ain’t the article for you. If, on the other hand, solving string theory sounds more accessible than getting your little one excited about another day of virtual learning, buckle up. We’re going to unpack some tried and true strategies to keep them engaged. 

Kids are far more resilient than the adults around them, and the secret to keeping your kiddos on track is to find what motivates them. 

Follow the leader. Remember, your children will do what you do more than what you say, and they’re always watching. Look for examples in people your children already admire, real or imaginary – superheroes, characters from favorite books or movies, astronauts, soldiers, first responders, RBG – who fought hard to find success. 

Stick-to-it-tiv-ness. As much as we all look forward to 2020 being in our rearview mirror, there’s a lesson in teaching our kids the importance of setting long-term goals. Suppose it’s something they’re passionate about, like a video game or TikTok dance. In that case, they have no problem applying themselves, so help them see the value of using that same work ethic to master fractions or the solar system.

Celebrate their wins. If you’ve got a student that struggles to sit still but managed to stay on task to write out their spelling list, celebrate that. If they struggle with math but learned their multiplication tables, celebrate that. If they did an assignment wrong but had a good attitude about correcting their mistakes, celebrate that. Wins don’t have to be a test with high marks or projects that got done early. It can be as simple as “Hey! You didn’t cry or lose your temper today!” This year has brought challenges no one expected – celebrate every victory. 

Stick to your schedule except when you can’t. Regular school days are based on routine, and most students thrive in that environment. However, many students – especially those with IEP’s and 504 Plans – need special accommodations. Even neurotypical kids are struggling to stay on task, so when you see the wheels coming off, stop, redirect, and circle back around when they’re calm and able to focus. 

Motivation Monday/Take That Tuesday/Wacky Wednesday…Come up with creative ways to make virtual learning fun. Virtual learning means no field trips to museums or the pumpkin patch, so inject a little happy by inviting their friends on a virtual play date and make distance less isolating and more fun. 

Take a walk on the wild side. If your child is bored and struggling with a concept, try a change of scenery. Go outside and write out spelling words or times tables with sidewalk chalk. If they’re stuck on a writing prompt, let them get up and take a short break outside to help them get out of that thought rut. 

Scooby-Doo the mystery. Sometimes the problem you’re trying to solve isn’t the problem you need to solve. Sometimes restless behaviors or bad attitudes are masking a learning struggle or stress. Reach out to their teacher, support staff, and principal for suggestions on supporting your child’s mental health.

Finally, remember that while we’re not all in the same boat, we’re all in the same storm. Don’t stress if your child isn’t achieving the marks they have in the past. Next year is a fresh start, and students across the board will need additional support. Educators are already thinking long term and are invested in your child’s success too. Don’t get discouraged – this is just a season, and like all seasons, it will end, bringing new opportunities for success. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Thursday, October 22: Keep Calm and Carry On

Keep Calm and Carry On

When: Thursday, October 22, 2020
3:00 – 4:00 pm ET
12:00 – 1:00 pm PT
In a year marked by a global pandemic, wildfires, riots, hurricanes and toilet paper shortages, it’s not surprising that 2020 has generated unprecedented anxiety. To make matters worse, scammers and hackers take advantage of the chaos to prey on the vulnerable. However, thanks to advances in technology, there are ways we can successfully navigate the chaos and keep our families and data safe.
Join host Sandi McKenna (@SandiMcKenna) and the team at 3 pm ET (12 noon PT) on Thursday, October 22 as we offer tips and share resources to help you and your family Keep Calm and Carry On in these uncertain times!
RSVP and attend the chat for a chance to win one of TWO $250 Amazon Gift Cards AND a #CareSmart Watch activated for 6 months!
Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. (You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)
To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@theonlinemom.com (subject line: CareSmart) indicating your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: https://bit.ly/2Ig72QW
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#CareSmart) on Thursday, October 22 between 3:00 – 4:00 pm ET.
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced during the Party!
little girl online

Managing Screen Time During Virtual Learning

By Tracey Dowdy

While some school districts have opted or moved to in-person learning for the 2020-2021 school year, others have chosen to go virtual or have been forced to backtrack, scrapping plans to be in the classroom. 

For years, parents have wrestled with “how much is too much” when it comes to screen time, but there’s nothing like a global pandemic and forced quarantining to toss those guidelines out the window. Our screens have not only been tools for virtual learning, but they’ve also kept us connected to friends and family,  a welcome de-stressor, and a source of distraction.  

While the balancing act of managing screen time may seem pointless right now, there are steps you can set to help set reasonable boundaries for both you and your children. Caroline KnorrCommon Sense Media’s parenting editor, suggests parents label the day’s activities for what they are. “When you have a common vocabulary for their daily activities, such as ‘playtime,’ ‘work time,’ ‘friend time,’ ‘family time,’ and ‘downtime,’ you can communicate a lot more clearly – and honestly – about what your kid is doing, what they should be doing, and what they want to be doing. This reframes the ‘screen time’ conversation into which elements make up a healthy life — one that balances learning with play, exercise with relaxation, and responsibilities with social time.” 

Start by creating a Family Technology Contract to set everyone up for success instead of frustration and tears. It’s going to look different in this season rather than what it would have looked like this time last year, but by establishing reasonable boundaries you both agree on, you can guide them to set their targets for the day. For example, if they want to hop online and play Fortnite with friends after dinner, ask them, “How much time do you need for homework? Two hours? Okay, then you need to start now so you’ll be done in time to play.” By including them in the discussion, you’ve made them accountable for their choices and help them to understand the importance of setting priorities to accomplish their goals.

Set aside no-tech times or locations within your home. Now that school is online – even if you’re in-person, some learning elements are internet-based – if you aren’t intentional, it’s easy for technology to take over every aspect of your home life. Set boundaries like no devices at the dinner tabletime limits for gaming or streaming entertainment, and remember to set parental controls

Interestingly, for years we’ve been wary of building relationships over social media, yet in 2020 those online relationships have been a lifeline for students who desperately miss their friends. Yet, those same risks – bullying, online predators, and risky behaviors – are still reasons to monitor their online activity. There are plenty of resources to help you safeguard your children and give you peace of mind. 

Above all, set a good example. Your children may do what you say now, but long term, they’ll do what you do. Put your devices aside and go play. Build Legos, play in the leaves in the backyard, kick a soccer ball around, or have them teach you the latest TikTok dance craze. Create together – bake some cookies, paint, play with Play-Doh, or have puzzle races and see who can put theirs together the fastest. In a season when we’re immersed in technology, it’s essential to teach your children to value human connection and real-world relationships, and there’s none more important than family. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Halloween Movies to Watch With Your Kids

By Tracey Dowdy

Like almost everything else about 2020, Halloween is going to look a little different. The CDC has released its guidelines for HalloweenDía de los Muertos, and Thanksgiving to help protect individuals, families, friends, and communities from COVID-19. Based on these recommendations, many families and communities are looking for Trick or Treating alternatives this year. 

One timeless tradition is to get your scare on through a Halloween-themed TV show or spooky movie. Here are a few age-based suggestions to help you make Halloween 2020 memorable for all the right reasons.

Ages 4+

Super Monsters Save Halloween (2018) – Netflix

The Super Monsters are preschoolers whose parents just happen to be the world’s most famous monsters. In this 30 minute Netflix special, they show preschoolers how the holiday’s scares are mostly make-believe by explaining the tricks behind haunted houses and spooky decorations.  Super Monsters: Vida’s First Halloween is another fun option. 

Room on the Broom (2013) – Netflix

Based on a book by Julia Donaldson, Room on the Broom features a friendly witch who’s quick with a smile and kind to the animals who ask her for a ride on her broom. 

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) – Amazon Prime Video/HBO Max

Kiki is a good witch who uses her broom and her flying ability to start a delivery service. It’s from Studio Ghibli, so you know it’s beautifully animated.

Ages 7+

The Addams Family (2019) – Amazon Prime Video

The adorably kooky family moves to the suburbs where Wednesday’s friendship with the daughter of a local reality show host causes problems. There are plenty of jokes for both children and adults to keep everyone entertained throughout the film.

The Worst Witch (2017) – Netflix

Mildred Hubble lives an ordinary life until the day that Maud Spellbody crashes her broomstick into their balcony. Maud introduces Mildred to Cackle’s Academy – a school for young witches where under the watchful eye of friendly headmistress Miss Cackle and scary deputy Miss Hardbroom, Mildred begins her training. But no matter how hard she tries, her spells have a habit of going badly wrong, causing chaos. Will Mildred always be The Worst Witch?

Hotel Transylvania (2012) – Amazon Prime Video/Hulu/Netflix

Dracula, who operates a high-end resort away from the human world, goes into overprotective dad mode when a boy discovers the resort and falls for the count’s teenaged daughter.

The movie is from the POV of the monsters, and they’re the good guys. Plus, if your kids love this one, two sequels follow.

Ages 10+

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Is it a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? The world may never agree, so feel free to start watching Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, attempt to bring Christmas to his friends on repeat from now through December 5.

Corpse Bride (2005) – Amazon Prime Video

When a shy groom practices his wedding vows, he accidentally marries a ghost. Written and directed by Tim Burton, the movie is exactly the style you’d expect from a Tim Burton film. Sweet, macabre, and fun for kids and adults alike.

Halloweentown (2004) – Amazon Prime Video/Disney Now

After learning she is a witch, a girl helps save a town full of other supernatural creatures. It’s cute and all-around wholesome entertainment, and a Disney Channel Original Movies classic, as any 90’s kid will tell you. 

Hocus Pocus (1993) – Amazon Prime Video/Disney+/Select theatres – check local listings

Max and Thora’s family moves them to Salem, where they struggle to fit in. Max accidentally awakens a trio of diabolical and slightly goofy witches who were executed in the 17th century. There’s a reason this Disney classic is at the top of so many must-watch lists. 

The Witches (1990) – Amazon Prime Video

Netflix is promoting a remake with Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch, but she’s got big pointy shoes to fill as Angelica Houston is magnificent in the 1990 original. Luke and his grandmother Helga stumble onto a witch convention and must stop them, even after he has been turned into a mouse.

Ghostbusters (1988) – Amazon Prime Video/Disney+/Select theatres – check local listings

IMDb describes Ghostbusters as “Three former parapsychology professors set up shop as a unique ghost removal service,” which may be the lamest description of a classic movie I’ve ever heard. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, and Sigourney Weaver helm one of Hollywood’s biggest hits. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Use Facebook Messenger Screen Sharing on Your Phone

By Tracey Dowdy 

Facebook Messenger now allows users to share their screens on iOS and Android mobile devices. You can online shop, browse through photos together, or scroll through social media all within Messenger’s familiar interface.

Any added features help Messenger stand out among the competition. Google Meet,  SkypeZoom, and Microsoft Teams are popular options, but some users are more comfortable connecting via Messenger, a platform most are already familiar with. Now, Messenger’s screen sharing feature lets you instantly share your screen, either in video calls with up to eight people or using the Messenger Rooms feature to chat with up to 50 people. Perhaps best of all, there’s no time limit, unlike Zoom, that cuts you off after 40 minutes unless you opt for the paid version. You can also screen share in Messenger Rooms on your desktop.

As Room creator, you can decide whether to limit the ability to screen share to yourself or make it available to all participants on the call. Messenger’s other fun features include creating a custom backgroundlivestreaming your video chats, and participating in a Watch Party from within the platform. 

To screen-share via Facebook Messenger on your phone: 

  • Open the Messenger app on your iPhone or Android device.
  • Start a video call by selecting one or more of your contacts, then tap the camera icon.
  • Once on the call, swipe up on the toolbar at the bottom (where you find the icons for hanging up or turning your mic off). 
  • From within the expanded menu that pops up, tap Share your screen. 

Now, other participants will be able to see a live view of whatever is on your screen. Your chat interface (the live video being streamed) will migrate to the upper right-hand corner of your phone, so you’ll still be able to see the other chat members while displaying what’s on your phone. 

That’s it. Facebook has made the process pretty straightforward, so even the most technologically challenged among us should find screen sharing within Messenger simple and easy to access. Have fun sharing! 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.