Digital wellness is a form of self-management people never really thought about until today. Now, technological devices have become integral to our daily lives as much as the next sandwich we eat at work, which calls for the question, “how much and how far can we go with it?”
Here is some of the ‘advice’ people love to give you that could be more harmful than beneficial:
Well, for starters, it isn’t for everyone. Humans have different technological preferences, mostly related to age. Cultural differences are also a factor that can affect how people view technology and their relationship with their devices and consequently, the internet.
Older people have been shown to have felt “intimidated” or “anxious” when handling technology, especially with the unfamiliarity of it all. For many younger people, on the other hand, it offers unlimited possibilities.
Concerns are rooted in the dangers of anonymity and spread of information, as problems on privacy, cyberbullying, and explicit or illegal material become more concerning each day. This contributes to how a person sees technology.
One can say that some things are simply out of our control when it comes to the digital age, despite careful use.
20 years ago, this kind of advice would have been useful. Except, unless you go retreat to the mountains or the edge of civilization, it’s hard to escape anything that could expose you to radiation.
Regardless, even if a wired telephone and no TV would be enough for you, the time for inevitable contact with your phone and other devices will eventually come, and the cycle repeats again.
It isn’t advisable to simply eliminate digital use altogether, even if it is just for hours or weeks at a time, because it isn’t what digital wellness is trying to tell you. Digital wellbeing as a minimum considers how a person relates to technology both physically and mentally – therefore, balance is key.
Realistically, what researchers think is best for us to do is to set things in moderation. We never really got to the point where we discover how exactly people get so hooked on their devices, so people now have to find out how they can relate to their devices in a healthy way.
It could be through managing screen time, putting a blue-light filter to prevent eyesight damage, or being selective of the apps and other content being stored.
This goes back to the generational difference. Young people just have the propensity to multi-task, which could be a bad thing or a good thing. In fact, developers take note of how a lot of people switch screens often and incorporate it into their projects.
Older people tend to focus on one task at a time. That being said, this difference in workload tells you that in order to regulate digital use, you have to take control of your focus.
Switching screens should only involve tabs relating to the task. Increase your own digital literacy by taking a tour around the application and learning to navigate through your device.
Researchers emphasize how important it is to understand your own context in order to develop digital health that fits you.
Part of it is understanding how many tasks you can do at once and how efficient you are with a particular workload. Focusing on one app just is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
This is not to say you should be letting everyone see your dirty laundry. This also is not intended to encourage spreading hate online. This is, however, a reference to what is so wrong with online misbehavior – the fact that people have to live a real-time life parallel to an online one.
Cyberpsychologist John Suler calls it “Online disinhibition.” It is when a user has a tendency to say things in a more pronounced and intense way than in real life. However, it should not be treated as a person simply not having a filter, but something that is being considered in online healthcare.
This is usually due to pre-existing stress or anxiety. Digital wellness does not aim for you to close yourself off or to show a false, ‘round the clock happy life, but to regulate your own anxiety as it reflects in a more exaggerated way online than you may realize.
A big part of digital wellness is the abundance of health information on the internet, which can sometimes be a double-edged sword. On one end you do have the chance of figuring out for yourself if your condition is treatable at home. On the other hand, you may end up relying on self-diagnosis which can be harmful.
It is important to come with a bit of understanding before going to a professional, but to bombard a professional who has seen a gamut of problems related to yours is probably not a good idea.
Research shows that there is a certain level of uncertainty about common symptoms and the intolerance for it that causes people to be more anxious about their condition than they really should.
It is because of these mishaps and miscalculations about what the internet can offer that bacterial resistance is greatly increasing, as well as toxicity, allergies and other bad effects from using drugs that were not prescribed by a professional. At the end of the day, sometimes it is better to leave the explaining to a professional.
People are going to need people at some point. Sadly, as high as the pedestal we’ve placed our devices and the internet in, they do not always have the answers to our questions.
The great misunderstanding about digital wellness comes from the lack of individual representation. Wherein, people have to understand their own relationship with technology first before they can confront their bad habits, and eventually fine-tune them so they benefit instead of harm.
Despite there not being a silver bullet to solve this kind of addiction, there is an ideal solution — take things in moderation.