15 Ways to Rescue Your Christmas from Digital Addiction
Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Many people celebrate it in different ways. If you walk up your local High Street in October or surf the web, you’ll find Christmas very much on the minds of shops and businesses. More and more people are experiencing Christmas as a mix of physical and digital. On Christmas day the smart phones and gadgets can take over. Kids can disappear into their bedrooms, for most of the day, rush Christmas Dinner, and be more interested in connecting online than with friends and relatives at home.
The digital world can be a real blessing at Christmas, as we hook up with relatives on the other side of the world, or check in with Granddad who is on his own in another city. Christmas day itself has quickly become, for many families, a day of TV channel hopping, gaming, texting, and Facebooking. Even in the bedroom, instead of wishing our partner Happy Christmas and offering a goodnight kiss, we are checking in to our Twitter feed. Our screens light up from minute to minute with messages and alerts as our face to face Christmas becomes fractured. Is it just part of the new flow of life? Or is something being lost? Is the digital realm invading, diluting and spoiling your Christmas? If you feel it is, then read on…
- Tip 1: When you wake up in the morning, make sure you wish everyone in your home a Happy Christmas before you switch on any gadgets. Open presents together and save the digital connecting until afterwards
- Tip 2: Set a time for making calls to others, even for texting. Ring fence that time and then enjoy the rest of your Christmas with those physically present. Turn off all alerts and notifications and connect at times of YOUR choosing. It isn’t about denying the digital world – it’s about placing it consciously in the physical world.
- Tip 3: Take some wonderful photos if you want, but don’t snap every single moment; don’t view most of your Christmas through a digital camera viewfinder or squinting at s smart phone or tablet. Be choosy, select your place and time to snap, but also step back and just enjoy what’s in front of you – your child’s face lighting up as she opens a present, the arrival of the turkey (do you really need to capture every turkey for the next fifty years? If you see most of Christmas through a camera, you lose the chance of some more intense and deeper memories to looking at the world directly with your eyes.
- Tip 4: Escape from your digital “head”. If you get texts and e-cards, read the words out aloud, to yourself or others. Make the digital physically real with your real voice. Some families read out texts and messages as their grandparents would read out telegrams. It can be fun and really add to the festivities
- Tip 5: Switch devices off during meal times. Enjoy the taste of that food without regular distraction.
- Tip 6: Choose what you are all going to watch on TV rather than having the TV on in the background
- Tip 7: Switch computers and devices off if you aren’t actually using them. Get calls to friends and relatives done early so you aren’t waiting all day for someone to ring or text
- Tip 8: Don’t get drowned in gadget instructions. It might be better to set up gadgets and other technology presents on another day. They can steal a whole afternoon. If you really must set them up, download instructions or watch You Tube guides in advance and get clued up so you don’t waste time and get frustrated on Christmas Day
- Tip 9: Go for a walk if the weather permits and leave smart phones at home, even if only for half an hour
- Tip 10: Turn smart phones and tablets off when opening presents. Give present opening your full attention
- Tip 11: If you get digitally delivered presents, such as Amazon Gift Vouchers, grab a drink, sit back and imagine what you will buy with them. Think of the person who sent you the vouchers, picture them; make it real in your imagination. Send them a written thank you card or a voice call instead of just a text or an email
- Tip 12: At the end of the day, grab a piece of paper and make a list of the presents you got forChristmas or some of the highlights of your day. Write it be hand, take a photo of it and upload it to Facebook or other social media platforms you use. Give your digital friends a physical image of your thoughts for Christmas
- Tip 14: Buy something beautiful and non-gadgety for someone used to techie presents. Use your imagination. Surprise them with something home or hand made.
- Tip 15: Sit back, relax, enjoy a drink or some nibbles and be present in the room for an hour, without any digital distraction. Give your “presence” as a present to your family at Christmas. You might just find when you switch your phone back on that you are refreshed, more alert and energised
We can so easily drift into digital distraction at Christmas. Instead of getting the best of both worlds – physical and virtual – we get the worst of both. We are split in two. Our family doesn’t get our attention and interest, and we flit through Facebook and the day flies by and can feel a bit superficial and empty. But when we decide when to switch on, when to connect, whether to be notified and alerted, when to snap or send, we place the digital world consciously in the physical one. And your Christmas might just be a happier one for doing so.
Paul Levy is the Author of Digital Inferno
You can also read this article in Christmas Magazine.