In these frightening times, we all need to do our part to make things better for everyone. That begins with taking advice from officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by practicing social distancing.

But what should you do if you start feeling ill and don’t want to leave the house? Easy, just see a doctor online through a telemedicine visit. Tap or click here to find out how to get a coronavirus assessment without leaving home.

With tens of millions of Americans staying home from work due to COVID-19, there is more time to spend online binge-watching shows, streaming music and staying connected to family and friends through video chatting apps.

And don’t forget all the people who are now working from home and need that internet connection to do their jobs. One issue people might run into is going over their data limits.

Fortunately, most providers have signed the “Keep America Connected Pledge.” That means they won’t charge overage fees and have promised not to cut service off to those who can’t pay their internet bills for the next 60 days. Tap or click here for details on the pledge.

All of this online activity might lead to networks being overwhelmed, which could result in a really slow internet or no internet connection at all. This is actually happening in Europe right now due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Things have gotten so bad that officials with the European Union are asking streaming services like Netflix and YouTube to limit their content to standard definition, removing the option for HD altogether. Currently, this is only for those in Europe, but with more people in the U.S. staying home, it’s expected to happen here, too.

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Government officials and health organizations have been asking everyone to pitch in to “flatten the curve.” That’s just a catchy term meaning to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Now, it’s time to start thinking about flattening the connectivity curve.

How to help flatten the connectivity curve

If enough people are online at the same time, it could result in slow internet or no connection at all. This is not a good time to be without the internet or have unreliable service, there is just too much valuable information online that people need access to.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg already eluded to spikes in usage becoming a problem with some of its services. He told news outlets, during a conference call concerning COVID-19, that the call volume on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp has doubled in recent days.

Zuckerberg went on to say these usage surges are becoming a challenge and, “We need to make sure we are on top of this from an infrastructure perspective.” Honestly, that’s the best idea he’s had in years.

The good news is that so far, broadband and mobile networks in the U.S. have been able to handle the spike in usage. But for how long?

With that in mind, here are some things we can all do to help flatten the connectivity curve:

  • Make calls the old fashioned way – Instead of using VOIP services or WhatsApp to make phone calls, use your landline if you still have one or turn off Wi-Fi calling on your smartphone. That just means you’ll connect through a cell tower when making a call instead of the internet.
  • Find other forms of entertainment – Instead of staying glued to your screen and binge-watching the entire Marvel catalog, spend some time enjoying other forms of entertainment that you don’t need to connect to the internet for — especially during peak hours. Play a board game with the kids, read your favorite novel that’s been collecting dust for years, take a walk to get some much-needed fresh air — these are all good ideas, even when we’re not battling a pandemic.
  • Use lower quality streaming – If you must use streaming services, go ahead and choose standard-definition videos instead of the higher quality HD versions. I know, I know. It doesn’t sound very appealing watching “The Matrix” unless it’s in HD, but it’s better than being without internet service at all, wouldn’t you say?

Following simple suggestions like these to help flatten the connectivity curve will help ease the burden put on networks and hopefully keep us from seeing outages altogether. Remember, every little bit helps and as long as we all pitch, in we’ll get through this just fine.