Technology use can have both positive and negative impacts, and this perhaps becomes even more apparent during the holidays: Do you scroll away and get that short term feel good and dopamine kick but look back in January wondering where the time went, or do you set boundaries around tech to get out what you really want and need from that precious time off?
It’s essential to strike a balance and consider various factors around tech-life balance:
Quality Time with Loved Ones:
- Positive: Technology can help connect with family and friends, especially if they are far away. Video calls and messaging apps can facilitate communication. Think about how much and when you want these interactions. Perhaps an online dinner with friends and family in different places, or a game night.
- Consideration: Ensure that technology does not replace face-to-face interactions. Strive for a balance between online and offline interactions to maximize quality time with loved ones both physically close to you and far away.
Gift Giving and Receiving:
- Positive: Technology can enhance the gift-giving experience with online shopping, digital gift cards, and e-greetings.
- Consideration: Balance digital gifts with tangible ones. Consider the environmental impact of electronic devices and accessories.
Social Media Usage:
- Positive: Share holiday moments through social media or online platforms to keep the connection with friends and family.
- Consideration: Be mindful of privacy settings and what information is being shared online. Educate family members about online safety, especially when sharing photos or personal details. Consider how you want to use social media. How does it make you feel? Are you comparing yourself with others? Why are you using it in the first place? Focus on quality interactions rather than quantity.
Entertainment and Media Consumption:
- Positive: Streaming services, gaming and digital content can offer a variety of entertainment options.
- Consideration: Encourage a balance between screen time and other activities. Consider setting guidelines for age-appropriate content and discuss media consumption as a family. Ensure that technology use enhances the holiday experience rather than isolating family members. Choose activities that foster collaboration and engagement.
- Positive: Technology can capture and preserve precious moments through photos and videos.
- Consideration: Balance capturing memories with being fully present in the moment. Avoid excessive phone use during important family events and celebrations and interactions. Research suggests that the quality of our experiences is reduced when we take photos or videos with the intent of sharing online. One helpful practice is to set offline times or places where everyone leaves their devices out of sight. E.g. evenings, meal times.
Overall, the holidays can be a great time to reduce your screen time, focus on what is in front of you, and lower your stress and impressions and information overflow. Set boundaries on screen time, especially during special holiday events. Encourage family members to disconnect and engage in meaningful activities together that strengthen the bonds, and that are positive for long term well-being.
Remember that the key is to be mindful and intentional about technology use, ensuring that it enhances your life rather than detracts from the overall experience. Communication and mutual agreement among family members can help strike a healthy balance.
For more similar strategies and tips, check out my new book Tech-Life Balance: 101 Ways to Thrive in a Digital World.
Taíno Bendz is the founder of Phone Free Day and his own consulting business, and his message on mindful and intentional technology usage has reached and inspired hundreds of thousands of people around the world. He is a public speaker, workshop facilitator, and conducts research on digital technology usage. Taíno holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and Management and has spent the last 10 years working in technology sectors such as renewable energy, healthcare IT, and software automation. He currently lives in Sweden with his family. He is the author of Tech-Life Balance.