Tech the Halls... How Technology Is Changing the Holidays

Even before the coronavirus kept many people indoors, technology was changing how we celebrated the holidays.

Of course, many of us have seen incredible advances in technology since the era in which we grew up. It has altered just about everything in our lives.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that it has changed the way we gather with family during the holiday season. As well as what we do on those days.

This will be even more evident this year. For example, with fewer of us traveling to holiday gatherings, Zoom celebrations will increase.

Let’s take a look at some of the other ways holiday planning and celebrating is being influenced by technology.

Holiday Tech Factoids

But first, 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.

Holiday Cards & Gifting

Many of us used to – or perhaps still do – send and receive holiday cards through the mail. And some of us enjoy displaying these colorful and festive cards on our living room mantles.

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

Before the rise in technology, nearly all holiday presents were purchased inside stores. That made for large crowds and long lines.  This year many of us want to avoid that.

Now, many are sending and receiving holiday gifts through Amazon. In fact, they are often shipped directly to the recipient. Sending dollars in the mail has also taken a back seat these days to gift cards.

Holiday Travel

As mentioned, holiday travel will be down this year. But when it resumes, technology will figure into it again. Regardless if it’s travel by air, bus, train or automobile.

Many people display their tickets on their phones these days. 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 one route is better than another on a particular day.

Holiday Decorations

This is another area that has changed dramatically in recent years due to technology. Some people choose to project multi-colored lights onto their houses. Instead of climbing ladders to hang easily-tangled lights.

For one thing, it’s considerably safer to do it this way. About 15,000 injuries occur each year from holiday decorating.

Sometimes these lights flash to the beat of music. Only because advanced technology makes it possible.

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

Holiday Entertainment

Another way it has altered holiday celebrations is with music. Back in the day, someone would turn on a radio station playing holiday music. And folks would hope their favorite songs would be played.

Now we can program the music we want to be played whenever we want it. Anything from sacred hymns to secular pop songs.

When it comes to holiday movies, there are plenty available to stream on media service providers. Including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus.

Some people normally attend Christmas and other religious services. This year they are likely to watch those services on computers from the comfort of their homes.

Social Media Celebrations

Many people are leery about traveling this holiday season. In fact, a number of state officials and healthcare providers have warned strongly against it.

Even before the pandemic, it was often impossible for some family members to attend holiday gatherings. Due either to finances or distance.

In these cases, social media can be a way to send holiday cheer. Last year, nearly one-quarter of Americans said they would use Skype on Christmas to connect with family members and friends. Many are opting for Zoom this season.

Video chats can't replace face-to-face conversations. Even with six-foot social distancing. But many who can't travel prefer them to phone calls.

Technology Can Unite Us

It's possible for technology to divide families during the holidays. Such as when some use much of the day texting or playing solo games on their phones instead of conversing.

But there's far more potential for it to unite families. Such as taking family pictures with phones and sharing them with everyone.

And playing group video games including Mario Kart and Jackbox.

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

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Patti L. DeLang - December 28, 2020

Technology…hmmm. I find the current reliance on it problematic. I live in a cell dead zone, thus have a landline. Our web connection is DSL from the local phone company, which is slow and not exceptionally reliable. Cable is not available. Before I retired, I could not get a cell signal most of the way to my work. Still can’t (line of sight limitations).

My entire state population (VT) is smaller than most cities(~650k). I personally know of more than one spot in the state where there is a sign saying “I don’t care what your GPS says, it’s WRONG! Turn around”

Mountains, hills, trees…narrow winding roads. Someone ran into a power pole the other night. The fact that the pole was beside a road meant they were able to get the power back on in only 2 hours on a single digit night.

I may be a neo-luddite, but to me access technology is a luxury. Not to mention the health implications! 5G, a most UNTESTED, damaging technology, being rolled out largely due to corporate greed despite some studies showing the dangers. So, no thank you to complete reliance on technology.

Raymond - December 28, 2020

Well for starters I was born in the 60’s so that should say something about the technology we had back then…….im old school so I don’t do any new things now in this era.
I still go to the bank to conduct my financial business, no computers, still send and receive what they call now is snail mail, I don’t believe in social media either……i have a credit card but use it for hotel reservations,if I need to buy something I go to the store,mall and pay cash for it….
Should I have to purchase it online I use a money card and deposit the amount for that item,no extra credit card purchases on my statements as well,still carry cash on me for those that say sorry card system’s down.
Still have a land line telephone at home and yes it’s a rodery dial phone.
I’m an old schooler but this technology of my time is still up and running and no crashes,hackers and still loving it!!! So what’s in your wallet?

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