During this holiday season we've decided to give extra attention to the topic of #DigitalWellbeing by sharing our best practices for a healthy body, balanced mind & engaged society. Today, we're moving on to look at meaningful relationships in these modern times.

Friend X: (Phone rings) Hello?! Everything ok?! (panicked voice)
Friend Y: Yes, I was just calling to say Merry Christmas.
Friend X: Oh. (long silence) Is WhatsApp not working?

Sound familiar?

Just a few decades ago, we picked up the phone to arrange a meeting, place an order, invite a friend to dinner or wish someone a happy birthday. The other, slower, alternative was to mail a letter.

Nowadays, messaging via text or e-mail is the norm for communicating, with calling reserved for emergencies.

Sure, instantaneous messaging or ‘likes’ can save precious time. But at what cost to our relationships with friends, family and loved ones?

While messaging technology helps bolster relationships (especially long-distance ones), our exchanges risk losing that personal touch.

We often choose emojis over words. And although emoji could almost qualify as a language, its generic nature removes our “voice” and sometimes leave us questioning, doubting or misinterpreting the intended meaning.

Technology has certainly taken a leading role in facilitating modern-day romantic relationships. Many relationships start (and sometimes, end) with a message. Dating has been redefined by a world where curated Instagram accounts or online dating profiles give us the sense that we know someone before ever actually meeting.

But studies show that it’s our closest relationships that are most vulnerable to technology’s negative effects. So, it is worth asking:

Is the way I use technology bringing me closer to the people I care about or creating distance?

We’ve all passed judgment on those couples or those families at restaurants who sit in silence immersed in their online worlds, playing a videogame, catching up on work emails, browsing social media or Instagramming their food.

And we’ve all been guilty of it at some point too.

Engaging in device-free time with family, friends and partners increases happiness, decreases feelings of isolation, builds empathy and trust, and fuels self-confidence.

It connects us and brings us closer to the world we live in so that we can form deeper, more meaningful relationships.

Here are a few ways we can nurture these all-important relationships:

  • Give undivided attention to the person and conversation. Put your phone away and fire up those listening skills. We have a lot to learn from those around us.
  • “I’m breaking up with you (sad face).” “You’re fired (angry face).” “I love you (happy face).” Some things are always better said face-to-face, right?!
  • Create a “phone basket” at home. At meal times, for instance, invite everyone to leave their phone in the basket. Switched off or on silent, it doesn’t matter: as long as it’s not on vibrate, so people will be less tempted to excuse themselves and sneak a peek
  • Pick up the phone. Messaging is a great invention but isn’t it wonderful to hear someone’s voice or laugh once in a while?
  • Hug! Real life hugging releases oxytocin, serotonin and boosts the immune system, building trust, empathy and understanding. Four to eight is the recommended daily amount

The Digital Luxembourg team wishes you a happy, peaceful and connected holiday!

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