What is digital wellness?

Digital wellness (also referred to as digital health or digital well being) is a purposeful and intentional focus on creating a healthy relationship with technology, both in our personal lives and in the workspace. 

There is a very real part of most peoples work that relies on digital devices and the internet to perform their jobs. The aim of digital wellness is to create an awareness of our usage and can also incorporate the design of technology that promotes healthy use and proactively supports the user to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

Why is digital wellness important?

The use, or more correctly the over use of digital technology has been associated with aggressive behaviors, physical inactivity, reduced attention, obesity, and sleep problems in preschool and school age children. These impacts however are not only issues for children, studies have found that adults who overuse digital technology can experience impaired emotional and social intelligence, social isolation, and mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, further identifying physical impacts including eye strain. There is also an increased risk of exposure to cyber bullying and loss of privacy.

It is also important to note that one of the most concerning consequences of excessive screen usage is how it can send the brain into an addictive state. The “hit” of the pleasure-inducing neurochemical dopamine that we get from using digital devices to our brain’s reward centre insidiously causes us to crave more. This is why we can find ourselves trapped in a cycle of screen addiction.

How much is too much?

While there are varying findings about a definitive amount of time, the research does agree that 1 – 2 hours is a reasonable limit for children over 5 years. The suggestion for adults is to limit access outside of work hours to about two hours. It is important to understand that there is not “a one size fits all” and therefore we should consider the impacts of our digital usage by checking in on our learning, relationships with peers and family, physical activity, sleep and our mental health. 

What can I do if I am over using my devices?

Some top suggestions include:

  • Reduce or stop exposure to damaging content
  • Turn off notifications: your brain needs peace and quiet
  • Limit your check-ins to once an hour: Few messages need an instant reply
  • Put your phone in another room when you’re studying, working or with other people: Reduces the temptation to pick up your phone
  • Inform your friends: Let people know you are setting limits on your usage
  • Cut out your pre-bed usage: Using screens right before bed not only introduces things to worry about into our minds, but it also delays, interrupts, and shortens sleep
  • Spend more time with people than your phone: focus on fostering relationships
  • Enjoy the moment: practice being present

If you are struggling with healthy use of your digital devices consider seeking help.

The psychologists at PHM are ready to support you. 

Written by:
Cheryl Gale
Psychologist
Proactive Health & Movement Cheryl Gale

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