It’s that time of year again: Thanksgiving is almost here, family and friends have arrived, and menus are being planned. In an ideal world, no one is engrossed in their cell phones or laptops, emails are left unanswered until next week, and the only tech tip you need is to turn off your alarm on Friday (or set it earlier if you like to shop).
Of course, none of us live in an ideal world. Every family dinner threatens to be interrupted by that cousin who can’t stay off social media. Grandma will probably need help figuring out how to FaceTime. Heck, even the turkey might need a little technological assistance—first to know it’s cooked all the way, and second to slice and dice it with the ease of an electronic carving knife.
In short, technology can either help or hurt you and your loved ones this Thanksgiving—it’s up to us how we put that technology to work. So while you’re surrounded by family and food this year, remember these six tips for Thanksgiving tech success, all of which will hopefully result in a more relaxing holiday:
While our grandparents could feed a full house without even referencing a recipe card, today’s technology allows us to harness the power of fancy meat thermometers and collaborative menu planning apps to make the meal even better. Whether you need help with beverage pairing recommendations, recipe measurements, or cooking instructions, there’s definitely an app for that.
You might be on opposite ends of the country from your loved ones, but everyone can still get together to share Thanksgiving memories. Web-based video calling is easy and cheap, whether you prefer Skype, FaceTime, Gchat, or a hundred other options. Maybe cue up a slideshow to show your absent relatives how the year has gone; maybe your family will even be inspired to create a cloud-shared photo album so everyone can stay in touch next year. No matter what, there are plenty of different ways to share the love.
If video conferencing can bring everyone a little closer, streaming TV can make those post-dinner debates a little easier, too. No matter what the Thanksgiving tradition is in your household—the Macy’s Parade, the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” classic sitcoms—technology like DVR, TiVo, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more can easily dial up anyone’s favorite show in an instant.
Whether you relish the opportunity to start shopping at 12:01 AM the day after Thanksgiving or rely on your favorite websites to feed you killer Cyber Monday deals, technology can make things easier. From email alerts to Twitter accounts documenting the shortest Black Friday lines, the Internet can help you get things done—in person or online.
Cybercrime always increases between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with hackers taking advantage of all the extra traffic to try and steal your valuable information. Make sure any shopping website you use includes “https” in the URL address, as that extra “s” stands for “secure” and ensures that any data routed through the site has an extra layer of security added to it. Other online shopping tips include using credit cards instead of debit cards (because they offer extra layers of fraud monitoring, dispute procedures, and other protections); monitoring your financial, email, and social media accounts for any unusual activity (because hacks can happen any time, anywhere); and never clicking on any too-good-to-be-true pop-up ads (because they will inevitably lead you to some illicit external site that attempts to install malware or other viruses on your device).
No matter what your Thanksgiving traditions look like, one indisputable fact links us all: everyone has a relative who can’t figure out how to use that new laptop, smartphone, or popular app. Yes, it can be frustrating to watch them try to find the power button, not to mention learn the ins and outs of their favorite social media platform. But this Thanksgiving, slow down, take a deep breath, and give your loved one that tutorial. A little generosity can go a long way—you never know what kind of connection you might facilitate or what kind of appreciation you’ll get in return. At the end of the day, isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about?
This holiday season, leverage technology to make things more meaningful for you and your loved ones. Most importantly, let’s all take time to put our cell phones down and turn our computers off so we can focus on the friends beside us, the food before us, and the love between us.
Happy Thanksgiving from everyone at CMIT Solutions!