The holiday season, of all times of year, is a time for connecting with friends and loved ones – preferably up close and in person. Technology is a wonderful thing. It allows our kids to stay more connected with their friends, sharing their holidays with one another even when they’re miles apart. Unfortunately, all that sharing via phones and tablets can mean that your kids are disconnected from their family members even when they’re right there in the same room. Unplugging from the technology and simply spending the holiday together sounds like an impossible dream.
A tech-free holiday season might be your dream, but it’s probably not your kids’. If you have any hope of limiting the technology over the holiday season, you’ll need to act early, act fast, and shake things up for your entire family. You might not be able to erase the technology entirely, but you can certainly make it easier for everyone to engage with the family right there in the room together.
Discuss your plan with your spouse ahead of time. It isn’t fair to take the kids’ phones away when your spouse is sitting on the couch, scrolling through Facebook. Decide on guidelines that everyone in the family can live with. For example, consider limiting phones and other electronic devices when you’re engaging in family time: opening presents, choosing a Christmas tree, or watching a movie together. When you’re all committed to the same rules, it’s easier to stay on track. This also ensures that you and your spouse are on the same page about technology use, so you won’t be creating the potential for conflict between you.
Set the guidelines even before school is out for the holidays. Let the kids know what’s coming. If you blindside them with it – for example, snatching their phones away as they walk through the door as Christmas break begins–they’ll feel sullen and resentful. Instead, make your plans clear ahead of time, and consider your kids’ opinions on the rules. For example, a teenager with a girlfriend or boyfriend won’t like the idea of not being able to connect with them throughout the holiday break. Consider, instead, setting out clear technology-free times that everyone will know to anticipate.
Buy a good digital camera and teach every family member how to use it. This eliminates the excuse that a phone or tablet is “just being used for the camera.” You’ll still be able to capture those important moments and share them with friends and family members later, but the phones can stay off in the process.
Plan specific family activities. Bonding is all well and good in theory, but if you’re accustomed to spending most of your time with your nose buried in your phone, simply sitting around interacting with one another can be hard. Plan a game night, choose movies to watch together, and take advantage of all the events offered by the holiday season to get out of the house together. By engaging in actual activities, you’ll reduce the time your family will spend missing their technology. Try going for a drive to see all the decorations, singing carols together, or whatever will move your family to bond and enjoy one another company. Don’t be afraid to be silly!
Give back to others. It might surprise your kids to realize that there really are people in the world who don’t have the luxury of 24/7 connection through technology. During the holiday season, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities that will allow your entire family to give back and see how other people live right in your hometown. Volunteering as a family will also give you the opportunity to bond while appreciating just how blessed your family really is.
Discuss one technology-free day. If the holiday itself is of particular significance to you, consider shutting off phones, tablets, and computers for just one day. Your entire family can survive the holiday itself without those devices, and as a result, all of you will be less distracted and better able to enjoy what’s happening right there in
your home. There may be some sullen teenagers in your home ahead of time, but it might surprise you all how much you enjoy each other with the technology turned off.
Limiting or cutting back on technology during the holidays isn’t as impossible as it seems, nor is decreasing your family’s overall technology use. Using a parental control always makes it easier to balance your families time that they spend of their devices. If your child has an Apple or Android device, a service like Netsanity could be just what you need! They have a suite of services their Timeblocker scheduler, can be used throughout the holiday season and after to ensure that your teens and kids enjoy other activities as well as spending quality time with family members! Sometimes you may need to resort to blocking some social apps during a special day or evening if you are find that checking those apps has become a holiday distraction. Netsanity Appblocker can be used to block and restrict certain social apps such as Instagram, Twitter, Vine, and many others.
Overall, balance during the holidays is the key to keeping the season full of peace and joy for both parents and kids!
Netsanity was made by parents for parents. With easy to use software designed to give control and sanity back to parents, Netsanity enables a safer and healthier mobile experience for kids. See for yourself with a free trial!
Netsanity is available for both Apple and Android devices.