3 Digital well-being
Digital well-being is all about feeling comfortable, safe and confident when you are using technology in an online environment. It is about feeling in control in a digital world that can sometimes seem overwhelming. It is also about maintaining positive relationships with others online, and avoiding unwanted behaviour such as cyberbullying. Most importantly, it concerns the balance between your online and offline worlds.
According to Ofcom (2019) an adult typically spends 25.3 hours online per week – that’s over a day a week online! In addition, adults now estimate they spend more time online when they are out and about, and rather than using a computer, around one in ten adults say they only use a smartphone to go online. So, if you do spend time online, it’s worth taking steps to ensure your own personal safety.
In this section you will think about connecting and communicating safely with others online.
Activity 3 Your typical week online
It would be interesting to compare the Ofcom statistics with your own experience. We often do not realise just how much time we are online or connected. For example, if we keep our mobile phones or tablets on all the time, we can potentially be connected 24 hours a day. Estimate how much time you spend online in comparison with other areas of your life using our Time calculator. Click to download.
Make a note in the box below about how your online time compares to your offline time. How happy are you with the balance?
Your results will be personal to your own situation. The activity should give you an idea of the proportion of time you spend online. If you are unhappy about the balance with your offline life, you may want to make a few changes to the way you do things.
Being online in itself can sometimes be stressful. It can also have an impact on other aspects of your life and your relationships with people around you. Your digital well-being can have an impact on your physical and mental health. Schools, universities and workplaces are very aware of this and provide guidelines to ensure the digital well-being of students and staff.
Activity 4 Improving your digital well-being
The video below provides some guidance on how to improve your digital well-being in five key areas. In your Digital plan, make a note of three tips you would want to try.
Again, your response to this activity will be personal. You may have identified a number of things you would like to change. Here are some suggestions.
- Turn my phone off when I’m with other people (restaurant, pub) – or at least put it on silent, in case of emergencies.
- Don’t answer text messages when I'm with other people, or in the middle of a conversation with someone else.
- Take some time away from electronic devices. Build in some ‘me’ time to relax.
- Take up a hobby that doesn’t involve being online.
- Unsubscribe from emails notifications and newsletters I don’t need.
Some apps allow you to ‘synchronise’ on multiple devices. This means that whatever you do on one device will be updated on all your other devices. See if your apps allow this.
The Open University Skills for Study: Managing stress website provides some good advice on managing stress. Although this is aimed at students, you may find it useful in other areas of your life.
Good communication skills and wise online behaviour will help your online interactions with others to be positive and beneficial. You will explore this in the next section.