3 Ways to Break the Tech Habit During the Holidays
by Kate Saffle
A year ago
Remember when you were a young child and your Mom was playing games on her phone and your Dad was engrossed in the news headlines on his tablet while you had family movie night? Or how during your school’s Christmas pageant, your grandfather stepped out to take an important call on his cell phone? If these memories don’t sound familiar, it’s probably because you grew up during a time when the only screen available was a television or perhaps a big, boxy computer kept tucked away in another room. Our childhood holiday experience is vastly different from what children experience today, and the biggest change? Handheld personal technology. It has firmly altered the way we interact on a daily basis and has the ability to radically alter the holiday experience for our children if we don’t rein it in and set limits.
Do you struggle with putting down your phone and feeling distracted by your devices? What would it look like to have a connected and purposeful holiday season without the frustration of screens interfering with memory making? If so, you’re not alone. Many parents find that although they are able to set screen-time boundaries for their children, creating similar limitations for themselves feels near impossible. During the holidays we desire to create a simplified and peaceful home that centers around traditions and intentional family rituals. You already are aware of the benefits of less screen-time, for your children and yourself; in this article, we’ll look at three practical ways to limit screen-time and reconnect with our families during the holiday season.
Create “Tech-Free Zones”
One of the ways I recommend families curb the tech habit, especially during the holidays, is to designate places in the home where tech devices cannot be used. For example, the kitchen and family or living rooms are a great place to designate as tech-free as these are the spaces that we often gather together. You might consider placing your phone in a dresser drawer or box in your bedroom each time you return home and setting the ringer loud enough that you’ll hear a phone call, if that’s even necessary.
This accomplishes two things: first, it creates a habit of mentally disconnecting from device use every time you walk in your front door. Secondly, it moves devices out of family spaces and into personal spaces, such as your bedroom, where the usage can be limited.
One caveat: choose a block of time of the day to consciously check emails, news feeds, social media, etc., so that you’re not scrolling right before bedtime or sneaking away from family activities to check your phone.
Document Traditions the Old-Fashioned Way
One of the reasons why it can be so hard to drop technology during the holidays is that we also use our phones to capture memories through photos and videos. It’s simply so convenient to have one tool to handle all of our needs! Here’s the deal though: that convenience comes at a price.
Instead, consider adopting an “old-fashioned” camera that can be used to document memories and record video. A single-use tool has the benefit of being used and then set aside, whereas a cell phone makes it too easy to take photos while scrolling Facebook or checking email. Today’s cameras also have wifi capability, making it seamless to send photos from your camera to your phone as needed.
This holiday season, pull out your old camera and try your hand at photography. You may even inspire a love of photo-taking in your children, while breaking your cell phone habit.
Replace the Habit
Speaking of habits, the third tip is to not only set boundaries around technology use during the holidays, but to also instill new and better habits. Often when we imagine using our devices less, we rely solely on willpower. For many of us, this simply is not enough to break a strong habit. The key is to envision a healthier habit to replace the one that you’re breaking.
For example, if the way you use screens is as a form of entertainment, consider picking up a book or magazine instead. You’ll still feel entertained, while also learning new ideas, and modeling the habit of reading for your kiddos. Keep a few enticing books, magazines, or newspapers laying around in key spots in your home to make the habit even easier.
If you use your phone to stay connected with family and friends on social media, only use your phone to make calls. This creates a habit of building deeper relationships and not getting distracted with content on social media. Designate certain times of the day to call a friend or family member and consider even keeping a list of people who you haven’t had a good conversation with in a long time. Another benefit is that you’ll be modeling healthy relationship building in front of your children rather than mindlessly scrolling.
Make This Your Most Intentional Family Holiday Yet
We have the whole rest of the year to choose slow distraction by devices; why not make this the holiday season where you let go of the grip of technology and choose face to face connection and family togetherness instead? No one else can decide how to spend the holidays for you-- not extended family, not the media, and not the way other families choose to celebrate. Create your version of the holidays, a season that embodies the heart of simple and connected living. The true gift of this time of year is togetherness, thoughtful traditions, and creating holiday rituals that our children will remember and cherish for years to come.
Which of the tips above will you try this holiday season?
You can catch more from Kate by visiting her at https://thestreamlinedlife.com.