Using digital technology mindfully
How to be more mindful with the way you use digital technologyHere are some suggestions for helping you use digital technology in a more mindful way.
Use one device or app at a timeResist the temptation to use more than one device simultaneously. For example, watching TV while using your phone.
Turn off unnecessary notificationsTurning off unnecessary notifications and alerts is one of the best possible things you can do to improve your productivity and wellbeing. For one day, consider experimenting with turning off unnecessary notifications (for example, social media) while leaving on critical features and notifications such as everyday phone connectivity and text messages.
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Maintaining a Mindful Life
Limit screen timeYou may also want to limit recreational screen time to a maximum of two hours a day. Spending time unplugged and offline is very good for our wellbeing, especially if we go outside into nature – or even just go for a walk down the street or to the park.
Keep devices out of the bedroomTry to keep your devices out of your bedroom or resist using them there. Using your phone keeps the mind active and the blue light emitted from the screen tricks your brain into thinking it’s the middle of the day. If you absolutely have to use your device in bed, switch it to nighttime mode and/or get a filter designed to reduce eye strain during nighttime use and reduce disruption of sleep patterns.
Disconnect before bedIt’s good to disconnect at least 30 minutes before bed. Switch off devices (and LED lights) and then start doing things like reading or meditating that let your brain wind down.
Mindful social mediaFor better or worse, social media has become a part of life for most people. Some people are showing signs of addiction, such as craving, tolerance and withdrawal. This is because digital technology and social media are literally addictive. Each time any of us checks our phone or logs in to our social media account, we get a hit of a neurotransmitter called dopamine in the brain’s reward pathways, the nucleus accumbens. This is the same part of the brain that is activated when people gamble and take drugs. When used unmindfully, social media can make people feel less connected and may impair their perception of nonverbal cues and therefore face-to-face communication skills. This disconnection is a major cause of addiction (creating a vicious circle) giving rise to incidents of cyberbullying, partly explained by the lack of nonverbal cues online which might otherwise moderate antisocial behaviour. Unmindful social media usage can also lead to social comparison, which can result in impaired self-esteem and even depression.
Is it possible to use social media in a more mindful way?We certainly think so. To help you, we’ve put together a list of suggestions on how to be more mindful with the way you use social media that are available from the Downloads section of this step. We’ve also provided links to articles and papers that discuss this topic in more detail, which you’re welcome to access if they are of interest to you. Accessing these links is optional.
Talking pointsReflect on your own personal use of digital technology and then within the Comments, share with other learners your thoughts on one or more of the following:
- Considering the five suggestions above, are there any that you would like to experiment with so that you are using digital technology in a more mindful way? Are there any other strategies that you have already found personally useful?
- After reading the tips in the Download about how to use social media more mindfully, select and experiment with one. What do you notice?
- Through accessing this course on your computer or device, consider how you’ve been engaging with technology. Have you become aware of unmindful habits that are affecting your learning or enjoyment?
Maintaining a Mindful Life
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