Rein in your craving for mobile devices and social media by understanding digital wellness. Learn the different ways to do a digital detox, as well, in this post.
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In this article:
Digital Wellness: How It Affects Your Mental Health and How You Can Improve It
What Is Digital Wellness?
One word that is slowly creeping up in the health and fitness industry is digital wellness. What is it?
Like health and wellness, digital wellness refers to the quality of your body and mind in the tech age. It also describes the steps to prevent technology from causing or influencing risky, dangerous, or unhealthy habits and behaviors.
Digital wellness is also a part of digital citizenship. It characterizes the responsibility of using technology, such as social media platforms to:
- Engage others in a positive and healthy manner
- Keep online space for everybody
- Protect yourself and others from exploitation or fraud
- Balance online and offline life
Discussing digital health and wellness has never been more vital than today, consider the following statistics from HubSpot:
- About 3 million people around the world use social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
- Video is now the leading media for advertising. In 2018, over 90% of Internet users spent time on YouTube.
- Consumers spent an average of over five hours daily on their iPhone, iPad, or Android.
- Users spent almost 70% of their media time on digital devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
The Harm of Having Uber Digital Lives
There’s no doubt that the Internet is one of the best tools ever invented in this century. It hastened learning, improved connectivity, and made people more socially aware.
More studies, though, suggest that excessive app usage and Internet connectivity can do more harm than good. One of these is a 2014 review on their effects on digital wellness and health, particularly mental health.
The research enumerated some of the published pieces of literature that revealed a link between social networking and signs of depression. These symptoms usually affected young adults.
It also said that prolonged exposure to social media platforms may also lower self-esteem. The reasons may include:
- Too much time on these websites reduces the time spent with family members and friends. It increases the risk of isolation.
- Social media may create superficial and hard-to-reach standards of beauty, fitness, and personality. When these don’t match the user’s appearance or behavior, they may be prone to poor self-esteem.
Meanwhile, a study in the Integrative Medicine International revealed that the Internet could be addictive. It means an Internet user may develop:
- Reduced temper control
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits
- Emotional dis-attachment from friends and family and stronger bonds with their online counterparts
- Irritability and mood swings
- Less time on essential life activities, such as work or studies
The anonymity provided by the Internet, especially social media, made online or cyberbullying even more prevalent. Do Something revealed over 35% of teens experienced bullying, many more than once.
About 23% also said they engaged in bullying themselves. These included leaving hurtful comments or sharing gossip or false information about others.
Effects on Physical Health
It’s also crucial to practice digital wellness since prolonged Internet or tech usage can lead to health issues.
- A 2014 research claimed that mobile devices emit electromagnetic radiation that could be carcinogenic since the tissues could absorb it.
- A 2018 study shared that frequent or prolonged mobile use could increase the risk of neck and muscle pain. It forced Internet users to adopt an awkward posture.
- It may also boost the odds of computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain. The person may develop blurry vision, watery eyes, and eye twitching due to constant tech usage.
How to Promote Digital Wellness
If there’s good news, it’s the fact you can learn to overcome Internet addiction or excessive digital use and promote better health and well-being.
Here are the best tips:
1. Do a Digital Detox
A digital wellness program won’t be complete without digital detoxing. It is refraining from using devices, such as smartphones, for a particular period.
The benefits of a digital detox include:
- Stress relief and relaxation
- Muscle recovery
- Digital eye strain recovery
- Better real-life social interactions
A digital wellness plan involving a detox may also help improve clarity and focus. This is because too much use can affect abstract thought, according to a 2016 study.
Just like any detox, you may experience symptoms of withdrawal. You may feel less restless or irritable due to lack of access.
To make digital detoxing one of your habits and reduce anxiety symptoms, here are some tips:
- Take Chill Pill to help you feel relaxed.
- Swap this activity with something more productive. For example, instead of bringing your smartphone to the bathroom, tag along with a book.
- Do yoga to help relieve muscle pain, slow down your mind, and relax.
- Do it slowly. You may set time limits for digital usage daily or detox once a week.
2. Encourage Youngsters to Practice the Principles of Digital Citizenship
Digital health problems can affect anybody, but they are more prevalent and severe among teens and young adults.
If you’re a parent, teacher, or a concerned individual, you can empower students to practice the principles of digital citizenship. These include teaching and setting rules on:
- Screen time
- Access and use of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram
- App usage and downloads
- Texting and calling
- Digital etiquette, such as respecting the privacy
- Online cameras and videos
Common Sense Media has plenty of materials you can use as guides and teaching materials. These can help you design a child-friendly plan.
3. Use Notifications and Parental Controls Effectively
Learn to improve your digital wellness helped by notification apps. Tools, such as Bitmeter II, can provide you with the following information:
- Amount of Internet data used
- Set limits for data use
- Profile creation and access (which means you can build separate accounts for family members and keep track of their use)
These can provide you with reports and notifications. The information can help you gauge the frequency of Internet use and whether you need to rein it in.
Moms and dads can also use parental controls to their advantage. These may set time limits for the children and restrict their access to certain sites.
4. Maximize Productivity Apps
Tech companies are paying more attention to digital wellness too, and they’re more than willing to help. Silicon Valley giants, such as Apple and Google, have apps to track your mobile use.
- If you’re using an iPhone, you can access Screen Time. You can also use the app on other Apple devices, like iPads.
- One of the latest Android features is the Dashboard.
If you can’t find these yet, all you may need to do is to update your iOS and Android operating systems.
What are operating systems? These are the software that instructs and regulates how the phone and its app work.
In 2018, Alphabet or Google CEO Sundar Pichai introduced a concept called Paper Phone. It allows you to print or convert essential files, such as contacts and calendars, into PDFs.
When you have been using tech devices for so long, it may be challenging to practice these digital wellness tips. Don’t worry, little alterations to habits can eventually lead to lasting change.
Do it one step at a time. Choose which among these ideas is the easiest to do and take it from there.
How do you take care of your digital well-being? Share your tips in the comments section below!