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Digital Wellbeing

Digital Wellbeing

Technology is rapidly changing and is often used regularly in everyone’s day to day life, even though technology is becoming more integral in everything that we do, this can distract people from what really matters most. Technology should enhance people’s lives, not be a distraction from it.  

What we experience on a day to day basis both physically and emotionally determines our general wellbeing. Technology has a large impact on wellbeing as it continues being such a large part of everyone’s lives, from how we represent ourselves to interactions with others. Often this is considered as online wellness or digital wellbeing.  

Essentially, digital wellbeing is about being aware of how spending time online can impact on how people feel and when online how to look after yourself and others. This includes, recognising the effects that spending time online has on our mental wellbeing, physical health, emotions and understanding what should be done if something online goes wrong. 

Digital wellbeing is often influenced through the choices people make online, interactions with others, how long people spend online and the content that people see. Technology was created to simplify and enhance people’s lives however, this is not always the case and sometimes people need a digital detox. 

What is a digital detox?

Digital detoxes are when people choose to not use technology or spend time on their phone for a certain amount of time. Digital detoxing is often used as a way to refocus on actual life and social interactions with no distractions. By detoxing digitally even just for a short while, this can help people reduce stress stemming from constant digital connectivity.

There are several reasons why someone may want to detox from devices:

  • Technology can cause stress
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Life/work balance is affected
  • Mental health implications
  • Social comparison
  • Spending time enjoying yourself with no digital distractions

There are several ways to have a digital detox or cut down technology usage:

  • Create technology free times and zones
  • Turn off notifications
  • Rediscover paper, instead of spending time scrolling social media you could instead read a book
  • Only use one screen at one time
  • Don’t use your phone at meal times
  • Convert your phone screen to white and black instead of vibrant alluring screens

Effects of digital on mental health

Constantly being on social media and using technology is linked with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, especially in teenagers. Research suggests that this is because of the high social pressures placed on younger people through social media platforms. This can increase the need of approval, discontent and cyberbullying. 

However, if digital platforms are used correctly they can be highly beneficial especially for the wellbeing and health sector.  

Benefits of digital on wellbeing:

  • Self-help online: Not everyone is comfortable speaking about issues they may have in person. Online resources are used to engage people through self help. This could include information about mental health using message boards, online programmes or self-management online guides. This can be done at home at a time which best suits someone. 

  • E-therapies: These are programmes which use mobile devices or the internet to help prevent and treat anxiety, depression and several other problems relating to mental health. These mostly involve therapy for cognitive behaviour and can be done through video calling, instant messenger and message boards.

  • Online information: There is so much information online which can benefit the wellbeing of people. 

Effects of digital on physical health:

Using technology and staring at your phone all day can cause implications on your physical health. This includes; 

  1. Neck problems – If you are staring down towards your phone all day it can cause you to have a bent neck. Look at your phone straight on to avoid this.

  2. Smartphone thumb: Constantly bending your thumb can cause irritation, pain and inflammation. Avoid this by taking breaks and using different fingers to type with. 

  3. Physical inactivity: when using digital technology, we usually aren’t exercising. Hence, increasing links between higher digital device usage and decreasing fitness levels and exercise.

  4. Sleep disorders – Many people sleep with devices beside them and often this can cause disturbed sleep. Artificial light suppresses melatonin which promotes sleep and enhances alertness, making it difficult to sleep.

  5. Eye strain – Often we do not blink when staring at a screen for a long amount of time, meaning the tears protecting our eyes are not replaced as often. Reading small print on phones can intensify this. Eye strain can lead to headaches, itching, blurred vision and dry eyes. Tips to combat eye strain:
  • Having regular eye check ups
  • Increasing the size of text
  • Using special eyewear
  • Reducing screen glare

Thank you to Wellbeing365 for giving us permission to reproduce this article which was originally published on their website.

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