Digital Wellbeing – How to Have a Healthy Digital Diet

The availability of information and the sophistication of current software, means that many researchers can find themselves spending hours in front of screens each day. When added to the amount of time we spend using technology in our personal lives, we can easily spend most of our waking time staring at pixels. While the technology itself is broadly neutral, the way in which we use it can have an impact on our energy levels, mood and social engagement. Many reports are highlighting the potential negative impact on our mental health and general wellbeing of overusing screens –whether because of a concern that social media may be having a direct impact or simply because screen time takes us away from other healthy activities. The key is to be consciously engaged with your digital wellbeing

What do we mean by digital wellbeing? JISC define it as;

‘The capacity to look after personal health, safety, relationships and work-life balance in digital settings.’

So how much is too much? There is no right or wrong answer to this, and it may vary by person. If you are concerned about your screen use, there is now a smart phone compulsion test you can take for free by following this link.

A good place to start is by being aware of how much time you spend using digital devices. Monitoring your time can be done in several ways, most upgraded smart phones now have the ability to monitor your activity or you can use Apps like; Mute, Moment and Space.

Finally when you have learned how much time you spend on devices, ask yourself a few simple questions. Do I have problems sleeping? Do I feel anxious if I forget my phone? Does using a digital device make me feel good? How much face to face time do I spend with people in comparison to being online? Do I ever feel overwhelmed and stressed by too much information or social media? 

If you do feel overwhelemed, here are some quick tips on how to take a break and manage your digital wellbeing.

  1. Limit the use of your mobile by using blocking apps like, Freedom, OFFTIME, or just turn your phone onto airplane mode for a while.
  2. Create new social rules, such as; no social media after 10pm, start a No phones rule, identify times when you won’t look at your phone or agree no phones at the dinner table to encourage interactions with your friends or family.
  3. Set goals and time limits on how frequently you pick up your device, Apps like HOLD or Forest encourage you to limit your use.
  4. Turn off notification sounds, message bars and banners. Make your screen black and white to make it less eye catching.
  5. Provide other options for a healthy distraction, get creative engage with an activity to aid relaxation or get out into nature.
  6. Improve your sleep by moving your phone away from your bed and putting it on silent.
  7. Create a morning ritual. Get up. Do some exercise? Eat breakfast. Drink some water. Have a shower. There’s no reason to involve your phone in any of these activities. Similarly, create “phone zones” and “no-phone zones” in your house.
  8. Start a ‘15 minute rule’. When you get home, for the first 15 minutes do something that will take your mind off work and make you happy!  The Action for Happiness website provides useful tips.
  9. Send less emails. Do we sometimes create more workload for ourselves when would it be easier to talk to someone?
  10. Learn about your digital footprint and identity to keep you safe online, websites like ‘Think You Know’ have further information and advice available.