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  • Writer's pictureSelina Thompson, FT Founder

Six ways to prevent digital devices impacting your wellbeing

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

Since lockdown began, our daily habits have changed beyond recollection, and our consumption of digital media has ballooned as we rely on the internet to stay informed and connected. However, this rapid digital transformation of society means we are spending endless hours glued to screens in a hyperconnected state - the perfect recipe for digital addiction and Burnout.

Time to Log Off, a digital detox movement founded by entrepreneur Tanya Goddin, explains ‘there are three different types of digital addiction which include phone addiction, internet addiction and social media addiction’. Best described as ‘developing a compulsive need to use your digital devices, to the extent where it interferes with your life and stops you from doing things you need to do’.

Furthermore, our digital devices can trigger Digital Burnout as our ‘always connected’ culture intensifies while working from home for the foreseeable future. Cara de Lange, Wellbeing Mentor, Consultant & Author of Softer Success, writes in her guest article on Thrive Global, ‘the warning signs (of Burnout) can vary from one person to another: weight loss, weight gain, hair loss, insomnia; easily annoyed with family and friends; frantically trying to keep on top of everything and a lack of energy or overdrive (nervous tension, anxiety)’.

It’s time we relearn our digital habits to protect our mental health before digital addiction, and digital Burnout becomes the ‘new normal’. Here are six ways to start today:

1. Limit screen time on mobile devices

A recent study by Kantar on consumers changing media habits during COVID-19 found that social media engagement increased by 61% and web browsing by 70%. Use screen limit apps to monitor your patterns and make the necessary changes. Install Google Wellbeing on Android or Apple Screen Time on iOS.

2. Minimise screen glare

To avoid digital eye strain, minimise the screen glare on your devices. Most apps now offer the option to switch to dark mode and the apps F.lux and Twilight automatically adjust your display to match the natural lighting of your environment. See Wired Magazine’s ‘How to turn on dark mode on all your apps and devices’.

3. Limit social media consumption

Statista estimated that users worldwide spend on average, 2 hours, 33 minutes daily on social media. Reduce time spent on social media apps using these functions:

4. Adjust social media management

‘We’re in this together’ is a comforting phrase during COVID-19. Still, it can be stressful to respond correctly to every contact on public platforms. Sprout Social advises brands to set ground rules for responding to typical customer interactions, including when it’s ok not to respond at all. Redirecting conversations to direct messages, muting or blocking inappropriate comments, are also recommended.

5. Practice’ electronic sundown.’

A tried and tested technique from physiologist, sleep and stress management expert Dr Nerina Ramlakha is to practice ‘electronic sundown’ an hour before bedtime. Switching off all devices removes the distractions that usually interrupt your wind down. In turn, this helps you to fall asleep easier.

6. Digital Detox to stop FOMO

Thanks to the phenomenon of daily Zoom sessions and Instagram live streams to name a few; our social life has moved online. But Joshua Becker, author of The More of Less and The Minimalist Home, says its time to take a digital detox when ‘you are motivated by a fear of missing out’. Set time during your week to refrain from using technology and digital devices. Health benefits include improving personable skills, relationships and productivity.

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