Tech the Halls… How Technology Has Changed Our Holidays

Today is Cyber Monday. What better day to discuss how technology has changed our holidays?

We all know that technology has altered just about everything in our lives. Many of us have seen incredible advances in technology since the era when we grew up.

So it’s not surprising that technology has changed the way we gather for the holidays with family. And what we do on those days.

What is surprising is how much of our holiday planning and celebrating has been influenced by technology. Let’s take a look at some of those ways.

Holiday Cards

One way technology has found its way into the holidays is through e-cards. Back in the day, we’d receive quite a few Christmas and other holiday cards in the mail.

Maybe you still do. And maybe you display these colorful and festive cards on your living room mantle.

But you probably also receive e-cards in the form of an email. It’s certainly easier than going to the store to get cards. And signing the cards, filling out the envelopes and mailing them.

But have we lost something here? Nearly three-fourths of people polled say they would prefer to receive a traditional card in the mail rather than an e-card.

Holiday Gifting

Prior to the recent rise in technology, nearly all gifts were purchased in brick and mortar stores.

That made for some very crowded venues with long lines at the checkout counters. We still get those crowds, and some people love this scene. Others could live without it.

Now, many people are getting their holiday gifts online through Amazon. In fact, those gifts are often shipped directly to the recipient.

Sending a check in the mail as a gift has also taken a back seat these days to gift cards.

Holiday Travel

It seems that no matter how one travels these days – air, bus, train or automobile – technology figures in somehow.

At the airport, bus terminal or train depot, people often display tickets on their phone. Rather than by handing a paper ticket to an agent.

When it comes to traveling by car to a family member’s or friend’s home, we frequently use a GPS to guide us.

Even if we know the way, these devices can tell us that one route is better than another on a particular day.

Holiday Decorations

This is another area that has changed dramatically due to technology. Instead of climbing ladders to hang lights, some folks opt to project multi-colored lights onto their houses.

Proponents of this method of holiday decorating say it’s much safer. Approximately 15,000 injures occur each year from holiday decorating.

Some of those lights flash in time with music. Again, made possible only because of advanced technology.

Using smart devices, some people also set up their outdoor and indoor lights to turn on and off at certain hours.

Social Media Celebrations

Sometimes it’s impossible for every family member to attend a holiday gathering. Due to finances and distance.

In those cases, social media can be a way to send holiday cheer. Nearly one-quarter of Americans say they will use Skype on Christmas to connect with family members and friends.

Video chats can’t replace a good face-to-face conversation. Let alone a hug. But many who can’t travel prefer them to phone calls.

Some people use Pinterest and other social media webs for creative ideas for displaying their gatherings. Not to mention their trees, food and holiday decorations.

Holiday Entertainment

In the past, many people kept the same radio station on throughout their family gatherings. Hoping for their favorite songs to be played.

Now, they can program the music they want to be played when they want it. From sacred hymns to secular pop songs.

When it comes to holiday movies, there are plenty available to stream on media service providers such as Netflix.

Some people attend Christmas and other religious services. But others stream those services and watch from the comfort of their homes.

Holiday Tech Factoids

Here are a few interesting factoids regarding technology and the holidays, as reported by Business Wire:

  • 46 percent of people rely on apps to guide them to their holiday destinations. Such as Google Maps, Apple Maps and Waze.
  • 32 percent say they would be lost without their smartphone during holiday travels.
  • 44 percent say it’s never appropriate to have your smartphone at a holiday table. But 31 percent say it’s fine if you’re taking or sharing photos.
  • 52 percent say that when they see family from out of town, they know what’s going on in their lives due to social media.
  • 25 percent say they are more likely to video chat with family members than talk via phone.

Technology Can Unite Us

It’s possible for technology to divide families during the holidays. Such as when some exhaust the whole day texting or playing solo games on their phones.

But there’s far more potential for technology uniting families. Such as taking family pictures with phones and sharing them with everyone.

And playing group video games including Mario Kart and group trivia games such as You Don’t Know Jack.

Technology is here to stay. The key is to make it work for you. Maybe technology will help make your holidays even more enjoyable than ever this season.

About Jeff Reagan, Editor, Jeff Reagan's Daily Health Newsletter for Conservatives

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