Health and Wellbeing: Digital Wellbeing
As a lot of what we'd do in the real world moves online, we find that we spend an increasing amount of time online. In 2019, nearly 80% of us used the Internet every day, while, in general, the younger we are, the more time we spend online.
Being online can be stressful in itself, while we can find using devices confusing and frustrating. Using devices can lead to heightened anxiety and the whole experience can sometimes be overwhelming. Some studies have indicated the more time people look at a screen, be it a TV, computer or mobile phone, the more likely they are to be at risk from anxiety or depression.
Digital wellbeing is all about being comfortable, safe and in control of using devices and being online. This page is intended to provide tips and suggestions on improving your digital wellbeing.
Basically, digital wellbeing at its simplest, means thinking about the amount of time that you spend using devices, why you use devices and how it makes you feel.
Not all time spent using devices is the same. If you're actively playing a game or blogging or making comments on a forum, they're not really the same as passively scrolling through a social media feed, so while you might think about the amount of time you spend looking at a screen, think also about what you actually use your device for.
When you pick up your device, ask yourself a few questions:
- Why did you pick it up?
- What kind of thoughts come up as you scroll through your social media feeds?
- How do your social media feeds make you feel?
- What's your heart rate and breathing like: are you calmer, or more excited?
- Is there another activity that you could do instead (maybe something more calming)?
If you think you should reduce your time spent online, think about trying these suggestions:
- Think about your social media use; take some time away from Facebook, Twitter or whatever. Try a digital "detox" where you leave a social media platform for a few days or maybe a week
- Does a particular social media platform increase your stress levels or anxiety? Close your account - seriously. Nobody has to be on social media if they don't want to be.
- Have 30 minutes or, even better, an hour device-free before bedtime
- Have your device on silent at night-time. Better still, don't sleep in the same room as your device. If you use your device as an alarm, why not buy a traditional alarm clock instead?
- Use an app like Checky or Social Fever to find out how often you are looking at your device
- Use built-in phone apps to manage screen time
- Turn off notification sounds - so that your less likely to look at your device
- Try an app that blocks social media - here's 10 different ones for Android and iOS
- Think about creating "devices zones" and "no-device zones" so that you only use your device in certain places or rooms
- Look at the apps you use. Are there any in particular that you spend a lot of time on? Could you reduce that time somehow? Do you actually need that app?
- Think about creating rules for device use like:
- no device use after 10pm
- no device use while eating
- no device use while with friends or family
- Create routines in the morning and evening that do not involve using a device; for example: exercise, shower, read a book or go for a walk - something different
- Take regular screen breaks while using your devices - this is good for your eyes and good for you too
- If your device has a blue light filter, use it in the evening or set the filter so it's always on. The blue light emitted by phones and tablets might be bad for your eyes and can disrupt your sleep
- When you get home from work or finish studying, for the first 15 minutes do something that will make you happy and take your mind off work/study. The Action for Happiness website suggests activities for this 15 minutes.