The holiday season is full of festive events and activities that gather family and friends together. Traditionally, it is a time to catch up, reminisce and create new memories by spending quality time with one another. With the rapid growth and accessibility of technology now in all of our hands, bringing everyone together and keeping their attention and focus on the magic of the moment will be more challenging than in years past.
When engaging in holiday traditions, keep in mind that your devices are meant to enhance the experience, not take away from the enjoyment of the moment.
Do– take in the beauty around you. Mindfully engage your senses. Enjoy the sights of the shiny, colorful holiday decorations. Take a deep breath and smell the season. Taste the holiday treats. Enjoy the sounds of the season. Feel the love in the room. Snap a photo or two to share at a later time.
Don’t– live through the lens. Don’t succumb to the pull to capture every moment on your devices. This will prevent you from enjoying the party in the present moment. Don’t let the smartphone engage you more than the people present at the event.
Do– have family members actively partake. Playing holiday music and promoting conversation will create memories that last a lifetime and get everyone in the spirit. Capture the finished product by taking a photo for the family photo album.
Don’t– have all devices accessible during the moment. Other than to take a quick photo or play music, keep them off and away. It’s family time, not phone time. Social media outlets do not have to be apprised that you’re decorating your tree in real time.
Do– allow your creative juices to flow. Creating a gingerbread house, or decorating holiday cookies is a fun group activity. Look up baking/decorating ideas online and print them out for reference. Post your creation afterwards, or start a challenge on social media (i.e. Gingerbread Challenge).
Don’t– have cellphones around your workspace. They can get ruined, and they will be a distraction. Your hands should be covered in flour and sprinkles, not an iPad.
Do– cozy up and enjoy your company. Make a cup of hot chocolate, nibble on some of your delicious homemade holiday cookies, pull up a movie on Netflix, and enjoy the evening.
Don’t– have phones in the immediate area. Pretend you’re at a movie theater and silence all devices. Your company is a gift to all who surround you.
Do– check out the neighbors’ decorative lights. Gather up your friends and family and enjoy ooh-ing and aah-ing at all the festive lights around town. If any display catches your eye, take a photo and share with friends later on.
Don’t– miss the moment by filming your entire journey. Photos and videos never quite capture the holiday lights half as well as seeing them in person. Enjoy the authentic experience by limiting your use of smart devices and taking in the sights firsthand.
Finding technology’s place is a challenge for all of us. Remind yourself that we never want to lose what we cherish and value. Time spent with family and friends during the holiday season are memories that are forever stored in our hearts and our minds, not in our phones.
Written by Katie Duffy Schumacher, Author of Don’t Press Send: A Mindful Approach to Social Media; An Education in Cyber Civics. For more information, visit www.DontPressSend.org.
Originally published at medium.com