Digital wellbeing and wellness are words you might have been hearing in conversations around the workplace or on social media recently. It’s a topic that’s being talked about more and more, and for good reason. Feeling happy and well is beneficial for our mind and bodies, but it also helps us to work more productively and avoid burnout.

Our lives are constantly becoming entwined with digital devices and modern technology, so it’s a good idea to think about the impact it could be having on your health and wellbeing. Do you find you’re missing conversations with family because you’re too busy looking at social media posts, or maybe you’re still checking work emails at the dinner table? What effect is this behaviour having on you and your loved ones?

Ironically, there are digital ways to help you manage this. In this blog we’ll share some of the tips to help you manage your digital use if you think you’re overdoing it, how to detox digitally and how to find a balance that works for you.

mother and father laying on a bed using their mobile phones while their child looks bored and ignored between them | Digital Wings What is Digital Wellbeing

What does digital wellbeing mean?

Ultimately, digital wellbeing is all about our relationships with digital technology and how these can be managed for our mental health and wellbeing.

Digital devices can be really useful tools when it comes to our wellbeing. Using technology, we can speak face to face to our friends and loved ones using video calling, we can join in with online events without needing to leave the house and we can order our shopping from the comfort of our own homes.

The improvements in technology have made things much more accessible than before, which can have a huge impact on some people’s lives, especially those who find it difficult to leave the house, or interact with others. But some of us are becoming too heavily reliant on our digital devices, which can have a negative effect on our wellbeing as it can cause us to miss work deadlines or family time.

How to assess digital wellbeing

It can be tricky to find a balance for using your technology, so it’s handy to know that there are tools available to support us with managing our digital use if we want it.

In 2018, Google launched a range of new Android features designed to make your mobile phone a little less addictive - calling the collection of features ‘Digital Wellbeing’. The tools enable you to delve deeper into how much you’re using your smart phone and for what purposes. It tells you how much time you’ve spent on social media apps or websites so you can work out if you need to make changes to your habits. You can also manage a child’s account using the Family Link from Google too. Find out more about Google Digital Wellbeing here.

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According to a survey by Deloitte exploring the use and impact of smartphones on users, around 40% of smartphone users think they use it too much, yet 29% do nothing to cut their screen time. Does this sound familiar to how you use your smartphone? If you want to assess your digital wellbeing, there are online tools you can use to establish if you think you’re using digital devices too much, if you’re confident using technology and how you feel about digital tools.

Voxel Hub has created a Digital Wellbeing Scale. You can take the assessment here to see how you score. It’ll take you through a series of questions including how you’re feeling about  aspects of the digital world such as digital literacy, digital technologies and digital creativity.

After you answer each section, you’ll be shown some facts and tips to help you with any personal improvements you might want to make, and at the end you’ll be given your digital wellbeing score and an explanation to what that means and how you could improve or maintain your digital wellness in the future. You can save your score, and retake the assessment at any time too, to see if anything changes over time.

Google have designed their own Digital Wellbeing support pages too. You can take their short assessment to find out if you have some digital habits you might want to break. Watch this short video to find out more about the life-tech balance:

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Digital wellbeing tips

If your digital wellbeing score is low because you’re not comfortable or confident using technology, you’ll need to take a slightly different approach to someone who wants to make a change to their digital habits because they’re using it too much. Here are a few tips to help you improve your digital wellbeing:

Get help: if you’re not confident using digital devices, find someone who can help. It could be a friend or family member. The Digital Eagles can help with this too. Visit the Digital Eagle Hub to find out more, or send us an email.

Review: use the tools available to you to analyse how much you’re using your smartphone. Check  the settings of your smartphone to see if you can find out how much you use your device

Set time limits: Do you find your bedtime is getting later and later because you’ll ‘just be a minute’ and then you get distracted by a video on social media, a tricky level on a game, or you’ve started reading a juicy news article? It’s easily done, so why not set some limits? For Apple users, find out how here, and Android users here.

Digital free zones: make certain places in your home free from tech. A great place to start with is the dining table. Having gadget free mealtimes is a good opportunity for households to engage with each other without distraction

Digital Detox: a digital detox is when you stop using digital or electronic devices to help break a habit or pattern of excessive use. This includes smartphones, computers and social media platforms. If you feel you're using technology more than you'd like, and you want to take a step back from it, a personal digital detox might be something you’re considering.

multi racial family sitting around a dinner table eating their dinner laughing and smiling together with no digital devices on the table | Digital Wings What is Digital Wellbeing

Digital wellbeing apps

There are lots of different tools and apps to help you build a healthy relationship with technology and boost your digital wellbeing. Try searching ‘wellbeing’ in your smartphones settings to see what, if any, built-in tools you have available. If you don’t have any, you might need to download or purchase one depending on your needs.

Here are a few examples of some digital wellbeing tools and apps available:

Android Digital Wellbeing: if you’re an Android user, you can find this in the settings under Digital wellbeing and parental controls. The tools in here enable you to find out how much time you spend in apps and apply limits, schedule changes to help you get ready to switch off for sleep, and help you reduce distractions when you should be working. Find out more here.

Flipd: this app is free to use for both iOS and Android users and allows you to limit your screen time by locking your phone for a set period of time, during this time your social media apps will disappear from your phone but you can still receive calls and text messages. You can set up groups with your friends and family to share progress and challenge each other. The app will allow you to listen to live stream radio and has five different ways to track your progress.

Social Fever: This app helps you to track the time you’re spending on your apps and set daily limits and reminders to step away from your digital devices. It also reminds you to do other things to help your wellbeing too, like when you should have a drink of water, turn your music down and when to give your eyes a rest from looking at a screen for too long.

Fitness trackers: If you have a smart watch or fitness tracker, you’ll usually have some handy settings available to you to help you with your wellbeing. Things like reminders to get moving if you’ve been inactive for too long and when to take a break if it your stress levels are starting to rise. They can also help you manage your sleep levels and hydration too. Find out more about wearable technology in this article

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The future of digital wellbeing

Digital technology is here to stay, but fortunately education and awareness of mental health and wellbeing is also on the rise, especially in the digital world.

Studies are constantly being run to find out the impact of digital usage and our mental wellbeing including regular research from Ofcom who want to find out more about how people are using their tech and what their attitudes and experiences are. (link)

Across social media, more people are using these platforms to speak out about their experiences and offer advice to help others. You might be familiar with trending topics such as #BeKind, reminding people to consider the things they say online to prevent cyber bullying. Many social media influencers are being more realistic with the images and videos they share too, moving away from filters and sharing less than picture perfect images of their lives.

Medical professionals are going digital, with lots of different health practitioners being able to consult with patients using digital devices. Even the NHS is getting in on the action with the NHS app being able to store your records and allow you to order repeat prescriptions and book appointments easily. We’ve written an article about the NHS app here

Even businesses are introducing ways to support their employees with their digital wellbeing with many offering flexible working, and access to additional support if needed.

Small changes to your digital use can make a big difference to wellbeing. A digital detox doesn’t always mean that you need to switch off every device you own - there are many different ways you could reduce the amount you rely on your digital devices. Check out this Digital Wings Digital Detox article to find out about the different types of detox that could work for you.

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This document is an independent publication and is neither affiliated with, nor authorised, sponsored, or approved by the companies mentioned. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners. There are other services available and Barclays does not specifically endorse or recommend the use of the services mentioned in this document. This document contains general guidance only and should not be construed as specific advice or relied upon as such – you should always consider your own situation, and take specific advice if unsure before signing up for any digital wellbeing service.

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