Dec 13, 2022 7 min read
Digital Wellbeing - Way towards Mental Health
Well it started today, when I suddenly got a prompt on my android phone stating “check your digital wellbeing”. Curious, I checked the page to find who is tracking by digital wellbeing and for sure why?
It showed, for Week 47 in 2022 (Nov 21-27), I had a daily average screen time of 5hrs 48 minutes. I was taken aback! Shocked, wanting to know more, I scrolled further. It detailed, for a “non-social media active” person like me, I spent 9 hrs 30 mins on facebook, 8 hrs 42 mins on Whatsapp and 4 hrs 24 mins on Youtube. I was surprised as it didn’t count my time on Twitter. Then it reckoned to me as I operate Twitter through my PC so, left unaccounted. It also displayed the screen time while driving, which thankfully was just 1 min (though I wonder how I managed to scroll my phone while driving). Another, highlight of the scroll was the benchmark which was set by the tracking app was “daily average screen time on phone of 4 hrs”, which of course is another eye opener of how times have changed and truly where are we heading!
For the unversed, Digital wellbeing is a new term coined by the Gen Z. Digital Wellbeing, lets you to know which apps and websites you use most and set daily limits. Once you hit the limit, those apps and sites pause and notifications go quiet. So you'll spend only the time you want, exactly where you want.
Coming back to my realization, thanks to my phone, I spent some time introspecting. A study by Harvard Medical School suggests that digital devices can interfere with everything from sleep to creativity. The growing human brain is constantly building neural connections while pruning the less used ones. Digital Media plays an active role here as much of what happens on the screen provides impoverished stimulation of the developing brain compared to reality. The article further states, it also disrupts with sleep patterns by suppressing the secretion of the melatonin hormone. The study rightly suggested a “balanced approach to screen use”. We need to be flexible enough to evolve with technology but choose how to use it right. After all, fire was a great invention for mankind but we had to learn that it can burn everything if not used with care.
We are constantly filling our precious time with the most convenient and effortless option of using Digital Media for our information, entertainment, connection, networking and distraction. Some out of compulsion, demanded due to work & faster requirements while other due to excessive compulsion of being overboard. I purposefully did not mention “time constraint” as a reason for if we truly analyze our time, we surely have enough to spend it mindfully. Gone are the days, when we used to flip an Oxford dictionary for learning new words, finding correct pronunciations and enhancing our vocabulary. The need is not felt today, as we can get desired information by asking alexa or siri (right or wrong – who is bothered). We are all part of superimposing the information readily available, making it correct just by numbers. We are all constantly wanting and eagerly creating and strengthening our digital identity rather than the real one. We get pleasure and acceptance through our virtual engagement with anonymous people. Strangely, we are forgetting who we are, what we really want to do and how we must spend our time today for a healthy tomorrow.
Today, there is an entire industry working on advising people towards mental and physical wellbeing. We are talking about Yoga, meditation, laughter therapy, counselling and what not. Still , World’s most developed nation, US ranks 35th on World’s Healthiest Nations by Bloomberg 2019 and 122 on Happiness Plant Index 2020, while back home, India is even worse at 128. We are busy in emulating others, seeking global acceptance whilst forgetting our roots, alienating ourselves from nature and even struggling to breathe clean air.
As a country, we are looking forward to being a net zero nation by 2070, IndianOil has taken a step ahead by committing to be net zero by 2046, but the question is, while the country heads are busy engaging at geopolitical level, framing policies and framework for creating green future, are we really planning to be part of this change? Are we truly bothered in ensuring our mental and physical wellbeing? Are we ready to make conscious choices for ourselves and our next generations?
Let’s take some time, to mull and graduate towards our wellbeing by being aware of digital media distractions, track and quantify our screen time with only the necessary and unavoidable, have regular sit-downs and conscious screen free time for routine activities, make efforts in engaging with nature and people in person and affirm to yourself daily that “only a happy and healthy me shall build the future”.
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