How to Use Social Media to Bring Family Together During Holidays

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11.25.2019

As families gather for holiday meals and festivities, the use of social media and smartphones could either provide special moments or get in the way of meaningful connections, according to a UT Dallas lecturer.
Dr. Janet Johnson, who studies communication and social media, said the goal of social media is to create community, which should be the focus of its usage during the holidays.
“Your family is an important community, and by participating on social media together, rather than by yourself, the result could be more joy at the table this holiday season,” she said
Johnson said social media users should contribute to the positive side of the holidays and avoid negative posts.
She also noted that mindful moments will be remembered much more than mindlessly scrolling through newsfeeds to avoid conversation at the dinner table.
“Make face-to-face conversation the newest social craze,” she said. “Connect with the people you cherish in your life but who you may not often see. Social media is a great way to send a thoughtful direct message rather than just clicking on a photo or post to like it.”
Here are Johnson’s social media tips for the holidays:

  1. Create an Instagram gratitude challenge for your family. Each day ask your family members to post for what they are most thankful. Create your own hashtag. Print out some of your favorites and place them on the Thanksgiving table.
  2. For Christmas, challenge your family to post Christmas-themed photos. Create a family hashtag. Have a special present under the tree for the best holiday moment captured.
  3. Surprise your guests with a FaceTime moment with a far-away loved one.
  4. Use imaginative family photos to create social media moments. Create a backdrop with fun props for family photos. Acting silly together makes memories.
  5. Avoid posting to social media after drinking too much at a holiday party. You don’t want to regret any pictures or posts the next day.
  6. Always ask permission before posting a picture of family, friends or colleagues online.
  7. Create a no-phone policy at dinner. Have a basket where you collect all phones so everyone concentrates on conversation rather than the latest political tweet.
  8. Studies have shown social media usage can contribute to loneliness and depression, so limit your time on social media this holiday season. Stop creating moments on social media and start creating real-time experiences where you forget you have a phone.

–Phil Roth

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