I am from a relatively small family we get together, usually in January or February, to exchange gifts. I genuinely look forward to this year after year. Gifts are exchanged among myself and three other adults. We each take turns opening the gifts holding and looking at each one. Most of the time, hugs are exchanged in excitement and showing appreciation to the gift giver.
Although this event is just part of my Christmas each year, I noticed something while at another family member's house this year. The other family is large and extended. There are usually 15 to 20 people every year. This year we all ate lunch together. I noticed that a few teenagers were looking at their phones while trying to eat and listen to the nearby conversation. The teenagers would take a bite of food then scroll the screen up. Someone asked them a question they just grunted or nodded when they heard their name. The teens had no clue what the questions were; in fact, I asked a teen if she could repeat what question that was just asked of her. And she was only able to tell me about the picture she was looking at on social media.
Once I realized that she nor anyone else at the table was able to eat, scroll through social media, and carry on a conversation, I started asking questions. She and the other teens became irritated and left the table quickly.
I later asked our host if we could have a phone-free New Years and see how it goes. Well, it was wonderful! Of course, the teens did not like the idea of giving up their phones for a few hours, but they finally did. As the fireworks started, the teens began to get more interested. They asked to light them, and they seemed excited to interact with people and their environment. As devices become more and more intrusive, we have to stand our ground and make an assertive effort to change. New Years 2020 has come and gone.
Why not enjoy where we are when we are there. Could we do better? Could we set a better example for our kids by putting our phones away during dinner and movie night? Research has suggested that we can not focus our full attention on two separate screens and fully comprehend what is going on simultaneously. Taking pictures is great; you can remember what happened and who was there. I suggest that during special events you keep your phone in your pocket, take a picture when needed, then return your phone to our pocket.
Another option while you are in a group is to have a designated photographer. Someone could keep their phone out and continue to take pictures during the event. Or the phone could be passed around during the event, and everyone could have an opportunity to take photographs allowing others to share in the excitement of the event.
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