Digital Health & Wellbeing

“I need to go on a digital diet,” said no one. Ever. Yet.

(Or did they because it’s actually in the Urban Dictionary!) Check this out: digital diet:

My husband and I are both educators, although I would never put myself in his league. He is a 25 year veteran of the little people (K-12) and has been known to have kids on the edge of their seats, on the track, on the soccer field, you name it. That guy can engage kids! Lately though, he has even commented on the difficulties around catching and keeping their attention. I instruct at the community college level, and just like in K-12, every class is different. But there are definite similarities and one is the inability to give full attention to just one thing at a time is very low . The problem is, students think they are maximizing time by “listening” to a required podcast, or their teacher, while they answer whatever super critical event is happening anywhere else. Yet, they cannot. More evidence is showing we are not meant to multi-task in these ways and we are actually short circuiting our growth. I would love to talk about multi-tasking soon!

Photo by zhengtao tang on Unsplash

While researching this article, I came across an article from Time magazine, May 14, 2015 (https://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/) that stated a new study conducted by Microsoft showed that people pretty much fade out after 8 seconds. 8 seconds and you’ve probably lost someone’s attention – and that was four years ago. The article cited our increasingly digitalized lifestyles as a culprit. I was intrigued by the word choice….. “lifestyle”. I have been researching the concept of digital wellness as it is a piece to our complete package of wellness: physical / mental / emotional / relational / spiritual / environmental / …. digital. Of course. (slapping my head). Just like with all of the other components of wellness, if we are not digitally well, our other components will suffer. It is a chain reaction.

First, defining digital health and wellness is not “easy”. This topic has been morphing over the last several years. Certainly, arguments can be made that the digitization of our society has been changing relationships, and certainly of youth. “They don’t know how to have a conversation,” is something I commonly hear from parents. There is a legitimate worry amongst the parents I talk to about their kids general feeling of loneliness and isolation. Even when surrounded by friends, there is a feeling that they do not have any friends. And, adults – we are not off the hook here. Let’s be honest, there are times when things are said on text that should have been a phone call, am I right? Or something is screamed on facebook that really should have been thought through and possibly worked through with a therapist or best friend before hitting the news stand. Adults are also feeling the loneliness and isolation. My point is, we, as parents, have to step up and get well digitally if our kids are going to follow suit. They (kids) are watching us (parents / adults). And if you think they aren’t, ask them.

What does it mean to be digitally healthy? While honestly, it seems like the jury is still out on the actual effects on technology on all of us, not just youth, there is one thing that seems clear: we really should be paying attention to what is happening to our digital health as much as our physical health. And even more importantly because they are going to have technology in their lives for so much longer, we need to teach our kids to manage their digital health, as well.

Practice digital health together!

You will not be here forever, and if gone tomorrow, Johnny or Sheila need to learn to not answer the !$^&*$ cell phone in class (true story). Teach them NOW – before they fail and wonder WTH?

As we have learned that green vegetables and whole foods are good to fuel our bodies, plenty of rest is necessary to recharge our brains and bodies, exercise is critical to relieve stress, burn excess calories, build and maintain muscle, keep your heart pumping, (I could go on and on about exercise), I’m going to say that watching our digital diet is just as important. There is a reason the physician asks if you’re limiting your child to 2 hours a day of screen time. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/pediatricians-no-more-than-2-hour-screen-time-kids/ . My question is – why isn’t the physician asking us if we’re limiting our screentime? Maybe because our heads are bent over on a screen during the appointment. (is this you?)

In the attached article, on digital health and wellness,  Marilyn Price-Mitchell, PhD, offers 12 tips not just on improving your child’s digital health, but ultimately increasing their own self-awareness. Self awareness is just one of the five key competencies identified by CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) https://casel.org/core-competencies/ as critical to social and emotional learning. Spoiler alert: “1. Manage screen time.” https://www.rootsofaction.com/digital-health-families/

There are so many key things to do to manage your digital diet. Who remembers the poster, “You are what you eat?” The little body filled with all sorts of junk food and then the little body filled with all the good food? What if we had a poster full of just everything we’re and our kids are consuming online. Would it be full of good, helpful, soul-filling content? (I immediately got a visual of some of the more violent video games – yikes) . As with any shift that we make with an exercise program or eating program, or health program, we just need to start with a baby step. Key word, start.

#letsallflourish, #parenting ,#zerotohero, #digitalwellnessforthewin,

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

One thought on “Digital Health & Wellbeing

  1. You hit the nail on the head….AGAIN! Thank you for your insight and thorough research on this topic. I would love to see a poster like the one you described!

    Like

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