DIGITAL WELLNESS: WHAT IS IT, HOW CAN I PRACTICE IT, AND WHY SHOULD I?

Did you know, the average person spends two hours a day using social media? That breaks down to around half a million tweets and Snapchat photos shared every minute.

With social media playing such a big part in our lives, could we be sacrificing more than just our time but also our mental health and well-being?

We challenged our team to participate in a #digitalwellnesschallenge where we focused on different aspects of digital wellness, awareness, advocacy, and creating positive digital habits.

We did this challenge because, at Colibri, we have started to question the impact of social media on our everyday lives. In 2017, Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president, and Chamath Palihapitiya, a former executive at the company commented on Facebook’s role on this issue. Parker revealed that the site set up “feedback loops” that helped to ensure people kept coming back. Mr. Palihapitiya said the social network was “ripping society apart” and exploited human psychology to maintain its hold on its users.

Facebook responded to the criticism and acknowledged the negative impacts of its platform. Nonetheless, they claim that only the user can determine how it affects them.

Our team decided to figure out what effect social media has on our mental health by taking on a four-week digital wellness challenge. The first week, we focussed on raising awareness and understanding our own social media usage patterns. From there, we began creating positive digital habits.

AWARENESS

It is important to be aware of how much time you are spending on social media and other digital platforms. We are the only ones with control over monitoring how much of our time is spent online. Before being able to make a digital wellness plan, you have to understand how much time you spend on social media. Let’s take a look into why considering limiting your time online is important.

There have been links made between mental health issues and social media usage. Anxiety and depression are becoming more common in younger generations because nearly everything that you say or do is criticized online. Social media is also an escape for folks who do not want to face reality, leading to addictive behavior, some say worse than cigarettes and alcohol.

Researchers from UC San Diego and Yale hypothesize that reading about others online might lead to negative social comparison — and perhaps even more so than offline, since people’s posts are often highly edited. Your social media feed can be harmful to your body image and self-esteem. When you are scrolling through their feed it is hard to remember that people have highly curated posts and many images are filtered and photoshopped. It’s important to understand that social media does affect people because online people share the good days, not the average or bad ones.

ADVOCACY

In the second week of our challenge, we focused on advocacy. The idea for this challenge came from watching The Social Dilemma for our team’s movie club. The movie explains the issue of social media platforms turning its user into objects so they can make money. Their goal is to sell our attention through advertising and by doing that, our well being is at risk and our humanity is forgotten.

Luckily, organizations are fighting the algorithms and working for a world of digital wellness. Below, please find a list of some of the organizations fighting for change.

There is also a call for reform for existing laws, one of which is the SAFE TECH act, specifically section 230. The proposed reform aims to regulate paid online speech to hold companies responsible for any paid hate speech advertised on their site.

The fight against tech monopolies like Facebook, is called the fight against Big Tech. If you want to see how people are fighting Big Tech, checkout this article.

Lastly, If you are struggling a lot with envy, comparison, bullying, or online harassment, counseling can help! A therapist is a person who has received training to help treat mental or physical health problems. Find one near you here.

WELLNESS

In the last two weeks of our challenges, we began creating wellness practices for ourselves. Below, are some of the practices we implemented:

  1. Limit the time you spend on social media. Track your usage on your phone and set a daily limit, such as two hours!
  2. Turn off notifications. Constantly having your phone call your name is extremely distracting and a lot of notifications we get are not urgent or beneficial. Turn off the ones you do not need to limit distractions and the urge to check your phone.
  3. Out of sight, out of mind. To avoid doom scrolling, put your phone in the other room.
  4. Know your intentions before you post. If you have to edit yourself, consider why you are doing that and if it is beneficial to you and others.
  5. Question the reality of your feed. It is not healthy to compare yourself to others. Unfollow any users who make you feel less worthy or overwhelmed. When you see news on social media, do your own research to see if it is true.
  6. Lead with love. Practice being compassionate and kind online. It’s very easy for people to leave a hurtful comment on social media so instead, reach out to someone, let them know that they are appreciated. Don’t respond to negativity with more, respond with empathy.
  7. Put your phone away an hour before bedtime. Blue light emitted from phone and laptop screens has been known for causing headaches and sleeplessness. Staring at your computer or phone screen can do more than cause eye strain. Artificial light can inhibit the body’s production of the hormone melatonin, which facilitates sleep. Putting your phone down an hour before bed can help you fall asleep.
  8. Do not sleep with your phone next to you. Research shows that mobile devices emit electromagnetic radiation that could be harmful.
  9. Replace your time on social media with something else. Instead of scrolling, read a book, go on a run, cook a yummy meal! One of our fabulous interns Alice was able to reduce her time in social media and direct it to health & fitness apps.
  10. Set timers and reminders. Many of our team members downloaded apps on our phones that reminded us of our screen time or set limits on how long we can spend on social media. My personal favorite is Moment because it sends you a message while you are using your phone asking if you want to be using it right now.
  11. Delete apps. Many #TeamColibri members deleted social media apps they felt did not serve them.
  12. Remember why you are doing what you are doing. As our CEO, Anna Colibri said “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. Keep in mind how social media affects you so you have a reason to practice digital wellness.

WHAT IS DIGITAL WELLNESS?

Digital Wellness refers to the well-being of our bodies and minds as we navigate the digital world. Precisely, the preventative measures we can take to distance ourselves from technology.

The main reason to practice digital wellness is to build a healthy lifestyle. What you intake every day through your phone is directly reflected in your mood. Digital wellness can help you achieve a positive and mindful mentality around social media and the digital world. Cutting back on social media use is one the greatest ways to lower undesired time on screen.

DIGITAL WELLNESS TAKEAWAYS

As a certified B Corp, Colibri Digital Marketing’s goal is to bridge the digital divide, and to do that, we have to be on screens and on social media. If we want to keep doing our jobs effectively and sticking to our B Corp values, we need to practice digital wellness.

Our hope is to inspire people to reduce the time they spend on social media and become aware of its effects. We recorded our team’s journey and documented it on social media. If you want to hear what we learned, check out our Digital Wellness story highlights on Instagram. Before you go, make sure you want to go and understand why!

Team Colibri continues to create healthy habits to improve our digital wellness because, through reflection, we were able to understand the impact of technology and its effects on our mood. Most of our team noticed that they became more grounded and were able to work on themselves, both physically and mentally.

I work to make the web a more beautiful, accessible, and functional place. I use dreams as a form of planning. And I play because it’s fun.