Digital wellbeing is a term that refers to the search for a balance between the use of technologies and your own contentment. This aforementioned example from Google or various digital detox courses (i.e. times when we don’t use any technologies) show that technologies are taking control of our lives. The goal of this competency is to regain control over them.
Just a test – would you be able to count how many times you look at your telephone every day? How much time do you spend on it? How long can you go without reading a message under your desk that’s just vibrated? And how much time do you spend on social networks? Are you satisfied with this? These are only some of the questions that appear in connection with digital technologies. It’s not about ceasing to use them or worrying about “digital dementia”, which is probably a completely nonsensical concept, but about feeling good with these technologies.
A course at the University of York gives recommendations that can be applied to using technologies in a more balanced manner. The first general field is working with positive psychology, or the ability the focus on two important skills – concentration and absorption in something, i.e. the ability to immerse yourself in an activity and pursue things that are important for you and that make you happy. (Do you know these three positive things or the popular concept of mindfulness?)
The second field is focusing on technologies and working with them. Try to order when and why you use a certain application. This, for example, is when you don’t want to spend your evenings on social networks, sending emails only in the afternoon after school, or the time you spend watching videos. The better these rules are arranged, the better it will be for you. The Morph application is a great tool for this.
Apple CEO Tim Cook recommends turning off notifications – they’re usually fairly worthless and they distract a person. It’s generally true that each notification – and with it a distraction from your work – not only complicates concentration, but also work performance and overall satisfaction. This is also connected to considering whether you should use your telephone before going to sleep and whether to leave it in flight mode overnight. You’ll save your battery and sleep more soundly. Or you can turn your phone off and use a normal alarm clock.
Another recommendation is stowing away your telephone – if you’re doing something, turn your phone off and secure it safely somewhere. You’ll gain more time for real concentration. This doesn’t mean that technologies are bad or that they’re not useful. It’s just good to know when we want to use each one. Some people go on vacations where they don’t have technology or mobile service just to take a rest from technology.
The third area that’s important for digital wellbeing deals with relationships. The recommendations here are fairly clear – try to avoid people who are unpleasant and negative; then go through your friend or subscription lists and try to get rid of them. Don’t be afraid to remove people who are taking away more of your energy than they are giving. There’s no reason to have your social networks full of flame wars and trolls.
At the same time, remember that it’s good to try to avoid information bubbles. We all know these well – on my Facebook and Twitter, everyone is voting for the other presidential candidate than the one who will win. Where are the voters that I don’t see? They’re also on social networks, I just don’t see them in my bubble of friends. It’s their missing voice of differentness that can deprive me of many interesting and important things.
The goal of digital wellbeing is to create an environment of technologies and a relationship with them in which you’ll feel good, stress you out less, and allow you to traverse them comfortably. Many other tools can also naturally help you do this – from remember-to-do lists to writing notes or even meditation.