Digital Wellbeing – Staying Safe and Sane Online

Technology is a central part of modern life. We can share our coffee catch-ups, track our health, reply to emails from pretty much anywhere and have a seemingly endless supply of cat videos. There is no doubt that our lives have been improved by tech, but how much do we really consider the impact that scrolling has on us? 

The Basics of Digital Wellbeing  

Google decided to look into Digital Wellbeing, surveying over 9,000 people in 6 countries on their relationship with technology – sharing the results of that study online. As well as being an interesting read, it also made us think about what we’re doing to protect our own mental wellbeing in regards to technology.

The Results 

A survey asked users what activities they undertook regularly and looked at whether they felt that those activities had a positive or negative impact on their daily lives. Interestingly they found that:

‘Generally, …people more often spend time on activities they believe have a negative impact on their wellbeing, and less often spend time on activities with a positive impact.’ 

For example, the top three activities recorded by the level of engagement were:

  • Checking your phone for notifications,
  • Passively scrolling through social media
  • Looking at content before sleeping.

These were only considered to have a positive impact by around 30% of those surveyed. Meaning the vast majority did not feel it gave them a positive boost. 

On the other hand, using technology to read, for fitness, health and learning on educational sites or apps were the least popular forms of activity. But the highest number of participants felt that these activities were positively contributing to their wellbeing. 

So why do we adapt these behaviours that we know aren’t good for us?

The way that the majority of apps and websites are designed are to keep us scrolling as technology engineer Aza Raskin told the BBC

“Behind every screen on your phone, there are generally like literally a thousand engineers that have worked on this thing to try to make it maximally addicting.” 

Good news

The good news is that people are adopting positive changes to minimise screen time and put their mental health first. Google reported that

‘1 in 4 people have made changes to their technology use to gain a greater sense of digital wellbeing.’

With that in mind, we asked team TFG what they do to look after their mental health online so that we can give you some inspiration. 

TFG’s tips to keeping yourself safe and sane online: 

  • Limit your usage – only go on at set times or when working.
  • Turn off notifications – to remove temptation, even put on do not disturb until you feel ready (or the need) to be “notified” again.
  • Clear out – unfollow people that make you feel anxious or bad about yourself, mute overly opinionated friends that are not helping your mindset. Unfollow news outlets bar those that you really trust and don’t make you feel like doom is setting in.
  • Take a break – can you hand your work accounts over to someone else for a bit to give yourself a total detox?
  • Slay in your own lane – just because someone else is seeming to spend all day every day on social or blogging, doesn’t mean you have to. Just do what you feel you can and need to do.
  • Find something you can do in your down-time that isn’t digital, get creative! 
  • Swap social media apps for ones that support wellbeing – Headspace, Calm, Spotify and Audible, can be good apps to have and use when you are being bombarded elsewhere.
  • Hand your device over to a friend/family member for a period of time if possible so it is not your focus. 

While we live in a connected and digital world, we have the choice of how we use it. What boundaries are you going to put in place to improve your digital wellbeing?

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