We live in a truly marvellous age. Just over a decade ago, it was unthinkable that our mobile phones could be used for anything other than making calls and sending text messages, and yet look where we are today. With our modern smartphones, we are able to do virtually anything — ordering meals, tracking our fitness, streaming videos, meeting new people, sending big data files and email, learning new things — you get the point.
Technology is amazing for sure. It has carried our civilization forward and vastly improved our way of life. Thanks to constantly advancing and evolving technology, we have made leaps and bounds in the fields of medicine, communications, transportation, and safety, to name a few. It encourages us to question everything we know, elevates our own perspectives, and makes it seamless to connect with people all over the world.
Perhaps then it comes as no surprise that all, if not many, of us are now heavily dependant on our various forms of technology. Can you imagine what it would be like to live without your phone or computer? Probably not. The overdependence on our digital devices can have dire effects on both our physical and mental health and if left unchecked, things can really go wrong — which is where the concept of ‘digital wellness’ comes in.
What is Digital Wellness?
You may have heard the term ‘digital wellness’ or ‘digital wellbeing’ being tossed about recently, as it has become quite the hot topic this year.
Basically, it is the idea that we have to be responsible for both our physical and mental health in this digital age — to not let ourselves become overly attached to electronic devices where it becomes detrimental to our overall wellbeing. Ideally, it is the optimum state of health and wellbeing that everyone using technology will be able to achieve.
It’s probably easier said than done, because many of us rely on digital devices every day, be it for work or school. Nonetheless, it’s important to know how your daily usage can negatively affect your digital wellbeing, and from there you’ll be able to take the necessary steps to reach an ideal digital wellness state.
Your Digital Best Friend
How many times do you peek at your phone throughout the day? This might sound surprising, but the average person checks their phone every 12 minutes, and they do this at least 70 times a day. Whether you’re doing it consciously or just out of habit, the fact of the matter is we’re not aware just how much we rely on our digital devices. They have become our favourite companions, always there with us whenever we need them.
The effects of this somewhat symbiotic relationship are adverse. Our phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers — all these devices have screens, and when we constantly stare at them for long periods of time, our eyes can become strained and cause problems like dry eyes, blurry vision, and even headaches. Moreover, we’re usually seated down for long periods of time when we are working on our computers which can lead to posture-related problems. The sedentary work environment also contributes to unwanted weight gain, bringing about a whole host of other health problems.
To combat this, remember to take breaks in between. Rest your eyes by looking away from your screen, stand up from your chair and stretch your legs, or even take a short walk around the office.
The Woes Of Social Media
With the dawn of the smartphone age came the meteoric rise of social media. Prolific names like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube — these social networking sites are the top sites in terms of monthly site traffic as they are where people spend most of their online time. Social media has simplified the way we consume content – by connecting the world together and making it easier than ever to catch up with friends and meet new people. However, there are certain drawbacks that should not be ignored.
Social media is addictive, and some experts even claim it can be just as addictive as cigarettes and other harmful habits. Some people become so used to scrolling through their social media feeds that they cannot function without it. They become distracted often, which can affect their daily productivity.
Social media is supposed to bring us closer to our friends, but this can be a double-edged sword. For some, seeing other people living what they perceive to be ‘better’ lives can create intense feelings of envy and depression. Seeing ‘picture-perfect’ photos on Facebook and Instagram can also cause body-image issues and low self-esteem — which can even lead to eating disorders — and at the same time influence and inspire narcissistic behaviour in certain individuals. These people feel the need to look ‘perfect’ all the time, which can negatively pressurise them.
The Silver Lining
There is some good news to help us achieve digital wellness. Tech giants like Apple and Google, the ones responsible for creating our beloved electronic devices, are stepping up and creating ways for us to track our digital usage. These usage stats aim to let you learn more about your usage habits and ultimately make you aware if you are spending too much time on your device.
By coming up with guidelines and limits for our use of technology, a comprehensive approach will enable us to maintain elements of our non-digital humanity in this golden age of technology, thus helping us achieve true digital wellness.