Digital has become part of our everyday routine – for most of us, picking up the phone is (most likely) the first thing they we do after waking up. And as any other immersive experience, it has its perks and downsides. This is why we should keep an eye on its overall effect on our lives and take an objective look at its advantages and possible issues.

During the Circle program and the toolkits we will develop, digital wellbeing and subsequent best practices will be one of the main subjects. Why is that? Because it can have a huge impact on individuals’ and organizations’ evolution, resilience in times of crisis and thriving during calmer times. So let’s find out more about it J

What does digital wellbeing actually mean

Digital Wellbeing is a term that refers to the way in which technology and digital services affect people’s mental, physical, social, and emotional wellness. The objective of increasing digital wellbeing is to build technology in such a manner that it encourages healthy use and helps users maintain a healthy lifestyle.

There are four pillars of digital wellbeing – or 4 angles to use when looking at the concept.

  1. Mental wellbeing

The thing with digital is that it gives access to so much and actually to so little – so we might tend to view other people’s lives, whom we perceive as successful or as role models, in an idealised manner that affects the view on our own lives. Truth is real life is rarely glamourous – something we must all remember when we might use online as a form of escapism.

At the same time, online has enabled so many people to reach out for help and for others to offer it, supporting them throughout the process.

Possible examples:

  • Negative impact: Emphasising one’s differences; Comparing oneself to others
  • Positive impact: Finding sources of support and help; Connecting with other people who are experiencing the same issues
  1. Emotional wellbeing

Do you ever panic when you can’t find your phone? Or dare you constantly checking it and browsing social media to make sure you haven’t missed anything? If that has become an automatism, well in the long run its effects can be negative. Mostly because they give you a false sense of connection, when in fact they make you disconnect to the real world.

Negative impact: Encouraging addictive behaviours; Compromising online safety; Promoting feelings of self-worth

Positive impact: Creative a sense of belonging: Helping people to reach their potential (through learning opportunities or making connections); Providing opportunities for creativity

  1. Social wellbeing

While digital helps connection & discovery, it can sometimes also highlight & encourage extremist views and aggressive stands towards what people perceive as ”different” to their own views.

At the same time, digital gives access to endless educational & practical resources, as well as solutions to  current challenges (eg: online courses during lockdowns, remote work etc)

Possible examples:

  • Negative impact: Experiencing or engaging in cyberbullying; Being a victim of crime (eg: stalking, grooming)
  • Positive impact: Preventing isolation; Connecting with others (family friends, communities); Enabling participation (as a citizen or community member); Supporting others; Collaborating; Sharing content with other people
  1. Physical wellbeing

Sedentarism is probably one of the most important health issues of modern life – as a lot of people work in offices, the focus on exercise and time spent outdoors is radically affected (and the pandemic & lockdowns didn’t help either). People might trade exercise & active leisure to activities that seem more ”relaxing”, but which are actually encouraging standing and unhealthy behaviours.

At the same time, if used in a constructive manner, digital can help maintain a healthy lifestyle and give the right tools to enable that.

Possible examples:

  • Negative impact: Impact on muscular and skeletal health; Impact on sleep patterns
  • Positive impact: Using fitness health; Monitoring health; Assistive technologies for physical conditions (temporary or permanent)

Using digital the right way – a few tips & tricks

  • Remember to always use digital mindfully and with a clear intention – pay attention to the feelings it triggers and its effect on your everyday life.
  • Make sure you don’t get caught up in aggressive, hurtful online disputes – try and use the question ”Will my comment make the world a better place or a worse one?” before hitting enter. Preserve your energy for more appropriate contexts and don’t fuel the collective anger that’s pouring in all the wrong places – changing the world can and should come from a constructive place and mindset.
  • At your workplace, explore and test different tools to make sure you discover those right for you and your activity. Discuss them with your colleagues, ask for help and support in implementing them if necessary.
  • Make sure security – both professional and personal – is something you take into account in your online activity.
  • Take breaks and actively evaluate the time you spend online and how you spend it.
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