Importance of Digital Wellbeing in Young People

importance of digital wellbeing

Digital technology is an important means of accessing information and communicating with one another in the twenty-first century. That said, it has also evolved to the point where the pervasiveness of digital devices has allowed them to develop a certain level of control over society. It has created a compulsion to endlessly scroll through news feeds and feed bits of our lives into the algorithm. All in the hopes to be noticed and validated by the same algorithms.

Digital technology has had a massive impact on our daily lives, making the importance of digital wellbeing more than something to be aware of, but a vital part of using these digital devices. This is especially true for young people, who have grown up in this digitally shaped world. 

If you haven’t heard the phrase “digital wellbeing”, or simply know little about it, you are in the right place. This article discusses what digital wellbeing is along with simple steps that can help support healthier relationships with everyday technology.

What is Digital Wellbeing?

Digital wellbeing is the way using digital technology impacts both our mental and physical health. An unhealthy relationship with technology often translates into unhealthy lifestyle habits that can increase depression, anxiety, eating disorders, body dysmorphia and more. Preserving your digital wellbeing is about finding a usage balance that preserves both our mental and physical health. For young people, who are still developing a sense of self and their place in the world, digital wellbeing becomes doubly important.

As the importance of digital wellbeing relates to protecting our physical and mental health, it is crucial that we develop good habits when it comes to using technology. This includes everything from limiting screen time to not sharing every part of ourselves with the world at large. Let’s look at some reasons this practice is so important.

The Importance of Digital Wellbeing

The world of digital devices and the internet is still a bit of a wild west situation. Sites are crawling with scams and spyware and misinformation designed to incite negative emotions or extract money from us. Focusing on the importance of digital wellbeing can help protect us both online and offline. Here are some of the dangers of unchecked digital device usage in our everyday lives.

Sedentary Lifestyles

Overuse of digital devices can lead to more sedentary lifestyles, which can translate into problems with our physical and mental wellbeing. Sitting in front of a screen for hours on end without getting up and moving has a tendency to lead to weight gain, increased risk of heart disease, and loneliness. Learning to break up extended working or browsing sessions with simple physical activities that increase your heart rate can go a long way in mitigating these effects.

Emotional Distress

Another downside of unhealthy internet usage that highlights the importance of digital wellbeing is emotional distress. Feelings of ineptitude and envy can be attributed to the constant exposure to unrealistic online representations of people and their lives. The emphasis on visual communication that is prevalent online can exasperate these feelings.

Online posts are often photoshopped, presenting an unrealistic picture of what life is or can be. This can contribute to feelings of inadequacy and depression. For young people, who are still learning to navigate the world, this can be even more detrimental. Learning to step aside and check the reality of posts and how to avoid obsessing over lifestyle fallacies is another step towards better digital wellbeing..

Falling Victim to Scams

Monetary and relationship scams are pervasive online and most of us feel that we have enough awareness to spot one in a heartbeat. This may be true, but the stress associated with overexposure to digital content can lead to foggy minds and missed red flags. Slowing down and being more mindful with our digital consumption allows us to recognize when things don’t seem right and avoid falling victim to online scams.

Digital Addiction

Using anything to the extent that it prevents living a full life is a problem. Like any addiction, digital addiction can create feelings of fear or anxiety when separated from our devices. It can also cause us to lose interest in things we once loved. This can negatively impact our self-esteem and brain development. When it comes to young people, whose brains are still developing, this can be a double whammy.

When digital usage tiptoes into the realm of addiction, having resources to help address it is vital. Letting people, and especially young people, know how and where to reach out for help can stop digital addiction from ruining lives.

We all live in a world inundated with digital technology, having a roadmap to help us improve our digital wellbeing is the first step to navigating towards a healthier relationship with this technology. Here are some steps in the right direction.

mental wellbeing

Steps for Improving Digital Wellbeing

Improving our digital health and working to have a better relationship with modern technology can help us be happier and more productive people. No one wants to be overly dependent on digital devices and taking simple steps to regain control of our online behaviors can prevent that. Helping young people practice these steps is important too and showing them that the importance of digital wellbeing in creating a happier and healthier existence is well worth the effort.

Audit Your Online Activities

Assessing the ways our current activities are affecting us helps us make positive changes. This involves screen time management, monitoring social media usage, and how reliant we are on our digital devices to be happy. Making this assessment helps us see where we can make improvements and find a better balance.

Discovering the patterns that stop us from creating a happier and healthier lifestyle, allows us to make adjustments and create healthier habits. Working to stick with these new habits will allow them to become more natural and automatic over time.

Delete Social Media Apps and Remove Notifications

One reason we find ourselves regularly immersed in our devices for extended durations is the extremely easy access to content. Pair that with constantly being notified of every little online event makes breaking free from digital devices difficult. 

Turning off or limiting notifications allows us to live with fewer distractions and deleting social media apps puts a roadblock up to easy access. It forces us to log in through a browser, helping cut back on the time we spend on social media. 

Create Limits and Set Boundaries

Limiting the amount of time we spend scrolling can significantly improve our mental wellbeing and reduce tech stress. If late night scrolling affects your sleep, try disconnecting at least an hour prior to bedtime. If screen time eats into your ability to get work done or have meaningful in-person interactions, set a schedule for using digital devices and stick to it.

Make Time to Get Offline

In the past, we lived the majority of our lives offline, but now we barely have time to get out and do the things we used to love doing. And young people may not have developed a love of offline activities at all. Limiting our online usage gives us more time to engage in healthier offline activities.We can find balance by simply prioritizing strolling new streets outside instead of scrolling news feeds online. Put down the device and do the things that make you happy in the real world. Engaging in a digital detox to do real things and talk to real people can help in shifting this priority.

Protect your Physical Health

Many activities surrounding digital device usage can cause long term physical damage if we are not mindful of it. Spending excessive amounts of time on digital devices can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, eyestrain, and neck pain. Adopting proper posture while using digital devices and switching to blue-light-blocking glasses can help your physical health.

Digital Wellbeing Apps

A number of wellbeing apps are available to support taking control of our digital usage. Some are even loaded onto devices by default. Using these apps can make it much easier to track usage, manage notifications, and develop more healthy personal schedules. Using these provided tools can help us find a balance with our digital usage.

Be More Mindful of Digital Device Usage

More often than not, most of us don’t intend to binge on silly videos for three hours at a time. When we are not paying attention screen time can sneak up on us. Once we begin to mindlessly consume, the damage is often done before we realize it. Practicing more mindful digital consumption helps us set boundaries and stick to reasonable limits.

Education Outreach Programs

The more we learn about the impacts of overexposure to digital devices and the importance of digital wellbeing, the more likely we are to develop healthier habits. These habits help us avoid the potential downsides of using the powerful technology we carry in our pockets.

To support young people in finding balance and a strong sense of digital wellbeing, sponsoring educational opportunities in your community can be highly beneficial. NTC offers educational outreach programs to help drive home the importance of digital wellbeing. NTC uses live theater performances, interactive livestreams, and other story-based engagement activities to help young people thrive in our changing world. Reach out to learn more about how to sponsor a program in your area.

Importance of Digital Wellbeing in Young People