5 Simple Ways to Unplug at Christmastime
Christmas should be the most wonderful time of the year, but that won’t happen unless you slow down and unplug at Christmastime.
You may be saying, “Unplug at Christmastime? That’s impossible!”
There is just so much to see, and the fear of missing out is real.
But where does this idea come from?
It comes from the messages we are hearing and seeing on television, advertisements, and social media.
A few years ago, Comcast’s Xfinity ran an advertising campaign that suggested the grandkids will love Grandma more if she gets a screen upgrade.
In response to pushback from the 2016 ad, Xfinity’s VP of Brand Marketing admitted, “There is something to becoming ‘disconnected’ or switching off devices during the holidays, but we wanted to reinforce the reality that technology also has the power to bring people together.”¹
However, studies have shown that screens are only beneficial in bringing families together when they are sharing the same screen, such as watching a Christmas movie together.
The problem is, that is not what it looks like in most American homes today.
According to Pew Research Center, “About three-in-ten U.S. adults say they are ‘almost constantly’ online.”²
Dscout’s study found, “People tapped, swiped and clicked a whopping 2,617 times each day, on average. For the heaviest users—the top 10%—average interactions doubled to 5,427 touches a day. Per year, that’s nearly 1 million touches on average—and 2 million for the less restrained among us.”³
For children, the numbers are even worse.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports, “On average, children ages 8-12 in the United States spend 4-6 hours a day watching or using screens, and teens spend up to 9 hours.”⁴
Go into an average American home, and you will likely find each family member staring at a different screen.
When you consider everyone will be home for the holidays, there are chances people will spend even more time on devices than they would if they were at work or school.
Hence the need to unplug at Christmastime.
Why You Should Unplug at Christmastime
Don’t get us wrong – technology has certainly made our lives easier. However, the Christmas season is traditionally a time for families to celebrate together.
When each member of the family is more engaged with a screen than with each other, there is no real connection.
Christmas traditions will be interrupted, family members will be distracted, and eye contact will be limited.
When your family chooses to unplug at Christmas, you are choosing to disconnect from screens and connect to one another.
The idea is to carve out times when you unplug at Christmas as a family – not to go completely screen free the entire time.
Here are some simple ways to unplug at Christmastime.
#1 Set an Electronic Bedtime
When the alarm goes off in the morning, do you immediately pick up your cell phone?
For many people, their cell phones are the first thing they see every morning and the last thing they see every night.
They sit on our nightstands, and we begin and end our days by checking emails, viewing notifications, and scrolling through social media.
Instead, unplug at Christmastime by setting an electronic bedtime, such as 7 p.m.
By not looking at your phone after 7 p.m., it is possible to enjoy more real-life interaction with your loved ones.
Plus, less blue light from cell phones close to bedtime means better sleep quality.
Tip – Place your cell phone out of arm’s reach in your bedroom to prevent you from late night or early morning scrolling.
#2 Have Screen-Free Zones
In addition to having clear times when screens are off, have screen-free zones.
For example, make it a rule that no cell phones, iPads, or Nintendo Switches are allowed at the dinner table.
Choose a room in your house without a TV that is designated a screen-free space.
With the temptation to stare at a screen removed, use this space for family activities, such as playing board games or reconnecting over mugs of hot chocolate.
#3 Host a Holiday Get-Together
The holidays are the perfect time to get together with friends and family.
The purpose of a get-together is to talk and catch up – not to look at devices.
With a house full of loved ones, you and your children will be much less tempted to stare at a screen.
It doesn’t need to be a huge event.
Simply invite some friends over for some card games or the neighbors over for a white elephant gift exchange.
[Related Read: 9 Ways to Entertain the Family This Holiday Season]
#4 Enjoy Screen-Free Activities
While we love a good old-fashioned Christmas movie marathon, it is wise to plan some other screen-free activities for the holiday.
The good news, is there are plenty of ways to unplug at Christmastime and have fun!
Here are a few ideas:
- Bake Christmas cookies
- Decorate a gingerbread house
- Make Christmas ornaments or other crafts
- Go caroling
- Look at Christmas lights
- Get outdoors
- Play board games or cards
- Do a puzzle
- Read a book
- Clean out old toys and donate them
- Visit the library
- Go window shopping
- Tell stories
- Look through family photo albums
[Related Read: At-Home Christmas Activities for the Whole Family]
#5 Appreciate Your Gifts
There is a real possibility that there are gifts under your Christmas tree that don’t involve screens.
Encourage kids to play with their new toys instead of turning on the TV.
Take advantage of your time off work to try out your new golf clubs.
Now is the perfect time to unplug and enjoy your gifts.
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