Christmas is almost here! You’ve got most, hopefully all of your presents. You might have even wrapped them! Decorations are up. Turkey is ordered. Plans are in place. There are just a few last details to sort out to make sure that everything goes exactly as planned. Thankfully, this year round you have a whole weekend to resolve those last little moments before the big day itself. So what do you still need to do? Have you thought about whether you’re tech ready for Christmas?
The place of technology in our holiday
Technology is going to play a big role for many of us this Christmas. Technology based gifts are high on many people’s wish lists. And even if we’re not giving a phone or a smart toy, a lot of tech is already deeply embedded in our household habits and traditions. You might watch a film together in the afternoon via a smart TV, ask Alexa to turn on the Christmas tree lights or perhaps play a family round of ‘heads up’, ‘Mario kart’ or other favourite games. If you’re introducing new technology into your home though, make sure you’ve thought about the changes it might bring with it.
Be careful of buying anything “smart”
There are a wide range of devices available now which are connected to the internet. I’m thinking particularly of toys, but all manner of household appliances seem to be going ‘smart’ at the moment too. Joining in with the latest craze is often fun and perhaps it feels like this is more than a craze, that everything’s headed in the direction of more connectedness. Be careful of blindly wading into the world of smart devices though. There are a plenty of questions to be asked about their security and what they do with any data you give them. If you’re able to check out views and reviews online before buying, do so! But if you’ve already committed, or been given something, keep an eye on the data you’re giving out and check this handy guide to smart devices.
Bought your child a mobile device?
Mobile phones and tablet computers have become a massively popular Christmas present. I’m sure many of you have got them for your own kids. If you have, be sure to think in advance about the way you want them to be used. Do you want to place web filters to stop them straying, even accidentally, into darker corners of the internet? Are your kids likely to need help putting the devices down, for bedtime, dinner time or to focus on homework? These are just some of the reasons many parents choose to pre-install a parental control app like Kidslox when giving children a new device. By making sure that the boundaries are clear from the start, it’s much easier to encourage good technology habits moving forward.
Social media, insta-envy and Christmas conflict
One last effect that technology might have on your down time that you’ve not considered is social media envy. Bare with me here, it’s not as crazy as it might seem.
The negative impact that social media has on many people’s mental health is well established. It’s especially bad for those who are prone to passively scroll through other people’s posts without participating, commenting or adding updates of their own.
The end of year period, with all its associated Christmas and new year parties, presents, family gatherings and so on, is heavy with opportunities for carefully chosen and often extensively doctored pictures, videos and statuses. Generally the main message of all these posts is “look how happy I am and how great my life is”. Of course, this is always true on social media, but at Christmas there’s extra, seasonal expectation and pressure to be seen to be having a good time.
This stream of idealised snapshots is exactly the worst type of social media experience for those affected by it the most. Consider having your Christmas as a Facebook free zone, or use Kidslox to allow a limited amount of social media use and then have it turn off.
However you choose to celebrate, don’t let your technology have more of your attention than your family! Here’s wishing you a joyful Christmas and a peaceful new year.