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Face-to-Face: Holiday Connections in the Digital Age

Kimberley Fowler
By Kimberley FowlerNovember 29, 2018

The holiday season is regarded by many as a time of celebration and joy. While many families gather together to share in holiday traditions, there are others who do not share the same experience.

In the age of technology, it is common for people to be captivated by their digital devices, rather than conversations with one another. This can make for a disappointing family experience for anyone looking forward to connecting on a more personal level. Read more about how to balance technology and make holiday connections with your loved ones this season.

Holiday Connections in the Digital Age

Our preferred methods of communication tend to be different depending on the generation you fall into: millennials have developed a reputation for having an electronic device in their hand at all times; while seniors today are known to prefer one-on-one conversations.

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Neither one of these styles is better than the other, just different. This difference in communication style opens the door for disappointment, a lack of understanding and resentment from one generation to the other, however.

So how can we learn to embrace the benefits of technology, while still enjoying physical holiday connections this season?

Christopher Ball, a Ph.D. student featured in a Quartz article, describes the gap between digital and physical interaction as “the physical-digital divide.” This phenomenon is typical of today’s society, where younger generations integrate technology into their every day interactions and lives and older generations prefer “physical face-to-face interactions and traditional codes of etiquette.”

In an abstract co-written by Ball regarding the physical-digital divide, he reports that while the majority of seniors acknowledge the benefits of technology, especially when it comes to maintaining contact with people who live at a geographical distance, it also causes “disconnection with geographically close social ties.”

So, what is the solution to a harmonious gathering this holiday season?

How to Balance Technology Over the Holidays

Believe it or not, a balance can be struck between embracing technology and enjoying the physical company of one-another.

Here’s how you can balance technology and make holiday connections this season:

1. Embrace the benefits.

There are so many benefits of technology, especially when it comes to connecting with loved ones at a distance. For family members who live far away, are in poor health or are otherwise unable to travel, the holidays can be a stark reminder of the many miles that stand between them and the ones they love. However, technological devices offer a new opportunity for them to be engaged in family events, even if they cannot be there physically. Video messaging is a great feature that most devices are equipped with or can be easily downloaded via an app store.

2. Loosen up and have fun!

There are also plenty of fun and interactive games that can be played on an electronic device that can engage the whole family. From “Head Up!” to “Reverse Charades,” there is a smartphone game out there to entice the tastes of every party goer. Check out this list of group-friendly games from Gadgets 360.

3. Set “tech-free” times.

Quartz outlines how to set aside chunks of time throughout your holiday get-together that are completely free of technological devices. By setting “tech-free” times and asking friends and relatives to put their devices away during meal times and other key activities, you will be able “to better focus on engaging with others face to face.” This will also satisfy the needs of both the millennials and older generations.

While technology has the ability to divide us, it also has the capacity to bring joy to our family gatherings – after all, isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

How are you and your parents or senior loved ones creating holiday connections this season? We’d like to hear from you in the comments below.

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Kimberley Fowler
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