During this time of physical distancing and isolation imposed by the global pandemic, technology platforms such as Zoom and online streaming entertainment (like movies and concerts) are bringing people together all over the world in ways that would have seemed astonishing just a generation ago. However, the widespread adoption of such technologies isn’t always a good thing. Overuse or abuse of these platforms can cause harm to our physical well being.
Negative Health Effects
While we are grateful that we can take advantage of these new opportunities, there is also the possibility that we can go too far and find ourselves scrolling the day away, neglecting our other responsibilities, and even endangering our health!
Many view smartphones and tablets as “indispensable” to their daily lives. According to a survey by Common Sense, adults average nearly 9.5 hours of screen time daily, more than 80% of which is on personal screen media, not work. Furthermore, 63% of respondents said they think their digital lives and their real lives are out of balance. Experts today are recognizing that digital health is one more dimension to be considered along with our physical health, mental health, financial health, vocational health, and social health.
Digital Wellness Day
Did you know that May 1, 2020 was proclaimed the first annual Digital Wellness day by a collaborative group of more than 100 organizations around the world called the Digital Wellness Collective? Their joint efforts are focused on providing a means for digital flourishing. According to their website, Digital Wellness Day 2020 presented an opportunity to highlight how technology can help us feel together, rather than apart - and illuminate the connective power of technology to enhance human relationships.
“Digital Wellness is a way of life, while using technology that promotes optimal health and wellbeing in which body, mind and spirit are integrated by the individual to live more fully within the human, natural and digital communities.”
Technology itself is neutral, neither good nor bad. It’s all about how it’s used. Luckily, there are many ways that you can promote better digital health in your life.
Tips to Moderate Digital use
As with most good things, moderation is the key to success. According to a recent article about Digital Wellbeing written in April 2020 by Georgia Powell of Sentient Digital, “Digital wellbeing is about how we engage with technology and how we can use it to make us better.”
Tips for Digital Wellbeing:
- Safety First: Being sure that your internet connection is as safe as possible, and that you do NOT disclose any personal information. It is unwise to EVER divulge your address, phone number, credit card or similar information to unknown parties. When making online transactions/purchases, be sure that the website address begins with an “https” (meaning it is a secure site).
- Be Mindful: Mindfulness is a key component of virtually all aspects of good health. Mindfulness means that you are paying full attention to what you do…and that awareness helps you focus. How much time do you spend with screens? Are you in control of your technology, or are you stuck in some bad habits? Are you wasting precious time with technology, rather than investing time in other areas (like exercise or making nutritious meals)? Does the way you use technology reflect your true self, including your values and principles?
- Be Respectful: It is a good idea to never post anything that you wouldn’t want your mother or children to read. Digital content lives forever! Online restraint is important to ensure you avoid posting or emailing something you will later regret.
- Set Limits: Especially during these times of physical distance, take breaks to go outdoors and restore your soul in nature. It is also important to remember that real-time, real life experiences with family and friends are vital for our overall health and wellbeing. Many people, including tech evangelists, are curbing digital distraction by reintroducing tactile, real-world experiences such as printed books and vinyl records, phone-free dinners and “digital detox” retreats.
As Powell concludes in her article, “The end goal of Digital Wellbeing is to consciously connect with technology so that we can maximize its positives while minimizing any negatives.”
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