Technology has become an important component of our everyday lives. However, irresponsible use of technology can hurt you (if you let it). This is where digital health comes into the picture. Everyone should be able to understand how to use technology for good. We’ve created a simple guide that even the least techy folks out there can use.
Digital health is best defined as the act of maintaining your physical, mental, and social health in the midst of evolving technologies. All the innovations we have access to have presumably been developed with the intention of improving our everyday lives.
Unfortunately, used incorrectly, technology has been proven to be detrimental to our mental and physical health. At the least technology can lead to compromised productivity and at the most has the power to ruin reputations, relationships, and lives.
Technology has the ability to become addictive. Whether you just can’t get enough of your social media or you’re tethered to a video game, getting hooked is easier than you may think.
Solution: A good way to avoid digital addiction is prioritizing your productivity and your social life. You should try and set a specific number of hours you allow yourself to spend on a device. Make a conscious effort to not use your mobile phone when it’s not completely necessary.
Your mobile device can become a distraction to you and others. When your phone sounds off your natural instinct is to draw it and check. Not to mention keeping your phone alerts on loud will disrupt everyone in your vicinity. Technology can disrupt work and conversations, and even cause accidents. Being distracted puts your physical health in harm’s way as well as disturbing your productivity, potentially affecting your mental health.
Solution: Make sure that you only use your devices in appropriate situations and never use them while driving or walking. Setting hours where you allow yourself to go through your alerts rather than having your phone volume on will also give you the control rather than your phone having the power to distract you throughout the day.
The internet has opened up new avenues to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Social media platforms and dating apps have opened up lines of communication globally. The danger, of course, is that every single person has the same ability to sign up to one of these outlets. This includes predators. Some of them open fake accounts to coerce people into compromising situations, steal important information or harass people. There are account users who have criminal tendencies.
Solution: It’s advice as old as time: don’t talk to strangers. This may be a little extreme because how else are you meant to meet new people (IRL or online)? But when interacting with a profile you’re not familiar with, use common sense and make sure you can verify that the person you’re chatting with is who they say they are.
There are documented cases when using too much technology has caused health problems. Some people stay online for so long that they become completely inactive. Physical inactivity kills more people in American than smoking and should not be taken lightly.
Solution: Use your technology as an aid to get outside. There are a handful of apps that guide you in through fitness and diet programs. There are also gadgets that are designed specifically to be used when working out. A smart watch, for example, can count the distance you walked, calories you burned and your heart rate (among other things.)
Opening a media profile can be a great tool for communicating with other people, promoting a business or expressing yourself. However, it is important that these platforms are used with care. It’s easy to get in trouble online especially if you have an open account. Cyberbullies and social media trolls are lurking everywhere and can be detrimental to self-esteem. As great as it is that we have platforms where we can speak our minds there are also people who will try to cut you down.
Solution: There’s no need to censor yourself but refrain from sharing content that is potentially offensive, malicious, or false. As for bullies and trolls, there is a block button for a reason, and if you really can’t stand nasty comments, close your profile. The best way to protect your mental health online is avoiding and removing offensive accounts and comments.
There is a reason why your personal information is personal. You want it to remain safe and secure. Unfortunately, the internet has opened windows for hackers to access our privacy. Popping your credit card into an online shop or sharing a risqué photo across an online platform can be dangerous. Not only does someone having access to this information give us anxiety, but it also has the potential of destroying job opportunities and stable finances.
Solution: A great way to avoid having someone take advantage of your personal information is by keeping it OFFLINE. Keeping your address and phone number off your profiles is a good start. The less information a stranger has potential access to the safer you are. You should be careful when sending or receiving private content such as passwords or account numbers. In fact, we recommend that you refrain from sending such content online. Keep your accounts secure and change passwords, pay attention to the websites you enter, and refrain from using your online accounts on unsecured devices or connections. Be mindful of images, footage, and language you choose to share online and bear in mind that once it’s on there it has the potential of being copied and saved by someone else.
The most important aspect of digital health is never letting technology control your life. Devices and digital content are there to make your life easier. Use them as tools for completing and simplifying tasks without becoming totally dependant on them. The key to establishing good digital health is to not be a slave to technology.