instagram envelope_alt facebook twitter search youtube_play whatsapp remove external_link loop2 arrow-down2

Gadget Doctor: Mum’s too old for high-tech connections

My elderly mum isn’t comfortable with technology and doesn’t have an internet connection, only a landline. How can we include her in our family group calls?

David says: While many of us embrace video calls and online chats to keep in touch, remember that some relatives may rely on their landline to stay connected. If you’re on Vodafone or EE, then iPhone and Android smartphones let you add multiple callers to a single call. Skype offers a more universal solution: providing the lead caller has Skype credit or a subscription, they can dial in up to 50 mobiles, landlines and other Skype users to a group voice call. Keen to keep to your landline? BT’s 3 Way Calling may be more than enough (69p per call or £5.50 per month).

How do I make sure my car is coronavirus-free?

Rory says: You have two options when cleaning your car of viruses — soap and water or alcohol, specifically isopropyl alcohol, which can be bought online or from a chemist. It comes in various strengths but you want to use anything above 60 per cent. Start by getting rid of excess dirt. If you’re using soap and water, use a soapy cloth and a little water to work up a lather on your touchpoints: door handle, rear-view mirror, gear knob. Pay attention to your steering wheel, as it can harbour four times more germs than the average toilet. Apply the soap meticulously then, when you’re finished, wash it away with a separate damp cloth or paper towel.

Are home laser removal kits safe?

Victoria says: With self-isolation meaning our hairy bits are getting a tad, ahem, wild, it’s driving an interest in at-home laser removal, or IPL, kits, which use the heat from a laser to temporarily destroy hair follicles. Kits from reputable brands have to meet strict regulations before they are deemed safe to use, and the lasers in at-home machines are less powerful than in salons, so shouldn’t require scientific safety goggles. It also doesn’t permanently stop hair growth but can disrupt it for as long as a year and differs between user. And we recommend doing a patch test before fully de-fuzzing. Brands including Philips offer a money-back guarantee if their kit doesn’t work.

The games doctor

The kids are off school at the moment and it’s a struggle to keep them engaged. Are there any games out there that might help them during this difficult time?

Guy Cocker says: This is an incredibly challenging time for children but there are loads of games that can help them cope with some of the new emotions they may be experiencing. I’ve found Animal Crossing: New Horizons on Nintendo Switch really helps me calm down after a busy day, while Assemble With Care (PC and iOS) has a similar meditative effect.

I’ve also been going back to one of my favourite games ever, Flower (on PS4, PC and iOS), for the sense it brings of being able to interact with nature, while Abzu (Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC) has you exploring an underwater world for a similar effect. Best yet, all of these games are suitable for all ages and fun for kids and adults alike.

The experts

■ Victoria Woollaston has spent a decade writing for the likes of Wired, MailOnline, TechRadar and Alphr and is founder of beauty website mamabella.uk

■ David McClelland’s mission is to make the web a safer place. He now writes and talks about hi-tech scams and hacks, plus photography and smartphones

■ Rory Reid is currently the YouTube director for car mag Auto Trader and is a former Top Gear presenter. He loves Haribo, cars and tech. In that order

■ Guy has edited GameSpot UK, Stuff and was a consultant on the BBC’s Make It Digital series of shows