We are drowning with information that we simply refuse to ignore. We consume three times as much information daily as people in 1960s. According to a research conducted by University of California, Kelton research and meQuilibrium, 61% of people can’t ignore their electronics devices and check them within the hour after getting a notification. 81% admit to interrupting conversations, mealtime or playtime with family, friends to check their social media, text messages or emails. 61% have felt jealous, sad or annoyed after checking updates on their social feeds and 73% believe their use of electronic devices has contributed to stress in their life. Our constant online presence starts to influence our real life in a harmful way. It is high time to become aware and not let the digital world fully consume us. There is a short line between a habit and unhealthy addiction.
So dear reader, how many times have you checked your Instagram today?
But the real question is: what we can do to create a healthy habits in a digital world, with technology? Jocelyn Brewer, an Australian psychologist and cyberpsychologist educator has introduced to the world a very interesting concept called ‘digital nutrition’.
What is this ‘digital nutrition’ concept all about?
Digital nutrition is two things: 1) understanding the giant influence of digital world and digital consumption on our mental and physical wellbeing. 2) It is also building a sustainable, positive relationship with cyberspace that allows us to get the best of technology.
So what if apps and games come with nutritional labels, so we would not have to guess its impact on our life?
As funny and ridiculous it may sound, it’s about being an aware digital consumer, who knows how much time he or she spends online, its purpose and that even the design of apps or colours used on websites are meant to hack our attention and make us stay or use it for a little longer.
For example, the dark background on YouTube aims to prolong the time we spend on searching for another funny video with cats and dogs. Multiple notifications, which fuel our FOMO (fear of missing out); endless scrolling – because we really want to get to the end and be updated or receiving all information at once because we MUST know everything ASAP, right?
Technology should serve US as a supplement and enhanecemnt of our lives but not a substitution and a fundament for our real life. So how to get our control back? According to Jocelyn Brewer, we have to be:
- Mindful – present and aware of how we use technology and what for. Ask yourself before opening Instagram or any other app: “How am I feeling right now?”, “What do I need to open this app for?” Constantly question the reasons for using it and monitor the time you spent on it.
- Meaningful – be practical and realistic – use it when you really need it and not when you just want it. Ask yourself: How is what I am viewing/reading relevant to or aligned to my goals? How does this action/activity contribute in a positive way to my life and overall sense of wellness?
- Moderate – remember that you are able to moderate not only the time you spent in a digital world, but also what you say and how you react to things that show up in your feed. Ask yourself: How can I tell if I am overreacting to a situation online? What would happen if I did not respond to that tweet/comment/post/message?How do I notice when it’s time to logoff/take a break?
It is not about a ‘digital detox’, which like many short-term ‘food diets’ doesn’t create a long-term positive effects. Let’s be honest, introducing new healthy habits that would serve you a lifetime, takes time and some small failures before reaching your dream goal. With short-term changes and its high possibility of failures, you only get frustrated when you make a mistake. So it is about starting questioning the digital world: what we see, read and HOW WE are using it.
‘We are what we eat…in a digital world as well’.