“Being able to enjoy your time online with minimal impact on your wellbeing is important for many of us; it seems that the best way to achieve this is to be mindful about how we spend time with technology.”
The public release of the Internet in 1991 presented a huge shift in how we’d live, work, and play in the years following. At this point, only a few people actually cared — and even fewer knew what the ‘World Wide Web’ would be capable of.
Now, 30 years on? Few of us could go about our daily lives without it.
For years I’ve listened to tech nay-sayers warn me that I’ll wake up with square eyes after staring at my phone for too long. Now, it’s their posts and daily updates that fill my social media feed more than anyone else’s — and how could you blame them, when the online world has more to offer than ever?
The professional sphere hasn’t been exempt from the charms of technology either. As the Internet has evolved, businesses have been able to go global and grow at rates thought to be impossible only a few years ago. This means that most businesses are now heavily dependent on the Internet to turn their products and services into dollars, at a faster pace and with lower costs.
From personal to professional, technology has evidently become dominant in all areas of our lives and this isn’t without consequence. Those who’ve grown up alongside the smartphone have acted more or less as Guinea pigs for this new way of living; and life immersed in the digital era has been found to increase struggles with mental health and self-esteem at higher rates than in older generations. This is an example of the fact that technology is evolving at such a rate, it leaves us fumbling to come up with solutions to the new issues it’s constantly creating — which, more often than not, are left unresolved.
This means that most of us are usually left to find our own way around these challenges that humans have never had to deal with before — casting a shadow across the profound benefits that the digital era has brought with it. Being able to enjoy your time online with minimal impact on your wellbeing is important for many of us; it seems that the best way to achieve this is to be mindful about how we spend time with technology.
So, how exactly do you do that?
First, take a break. Life now demands us to know the in’s and out’s of everything — from the lives of our friends, to the political turmoil happening in some far-off nation. Escape it all by getting off your phone to do something a little less taxing on your wellbeing, like enjoying some guilty pleasure TV, or taking a walk.
Second: control your feeds. The Internet is made with user experience in mind, so we get to choose what we do and don’t see. If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed by information that’s bringing your mood down, don’t be afraid to get trigger-happy with control features and unfollow, hide, or block anything you don’t want on your feed.
There’s something to be said for the idea of treating others how you’d like to be treated. That’s why my third piece of advice is to contribute in a positive way when you’re online — you’ll help to reduce the amount of negativity present on the Internet, and your mental health will thank you for it.
Finally, seek support. Knowing when to reach out is an important skill to have, in any context. A friend, family member, or professional might be able to help you make the most of your time in the online world, while reducing any negative impact it may be having on your mental health.
Technology has cemented its place in our society, whether we like it or not. With it, it’s brought unprecedented issues we’ve never had to deal with before. Being mindful of your usage is key in managing these challenges and getting the most out of your time spent online. It’s also important to remember that there’s no rule-book on navigating this new digital landscape — but going easy on yourself and others is a great place to start.