In an always-on, always-connected world, many of us struggle to find purpose, peace and meaning in our lives. Digital media is interfering with our ability to be alone, which is essential to developing deeper thinking, self-reflection and mental clarity1. This is mainly because digital media creates too much noise, leading to confusion, stress and loss of self-direction2. We are so busy managing the noise, we are no longer in the lead2.
We can use technology with intentionality and agency to better balance our online and offline lives. We can take breaks from technology to get in touch with the world right here, right now, and we can use technology to engage in appropriate social activism. When we are tech-intentional, we use technology to our advantage, we support our spiritual health and well-being, and we achieve digital wellness.
- Embrace solitude and self-reflection. Implement a moment of reflection each day within schools and/or families (start with one minute and build up to ten) to give children and teens an opportunity to build a relationship with themselves. Create a space for deeper thinking and self-reflection that is free of digital distraction and unnecessary stimuli.
- Avoid “noise” by removing unnecessary apps and notifications from devices. Make a conscious decision to check texts, emails or other apps. And teach your kids to, as well. Go as far as giving them words, “Now, I am going to check my texts.” Set a time limit (10-20 minutes) and stick to it. Then walk away and engage in another tech-free activity. And leave your phone alone. Utilize Screen Time and other apps to set limits on the amount of time you spend on your device.
- Utilize journaling and conversation to develop thoughts and opinions, to understand your circle of influence, and to discover ways to use social media for appropriate social activism.
- Make IRL (In Real Life) a priority. Teach kids moderation and the importance of balance in their virtual and actual lives. Take a break from technology and employ calming and regulation strategies like yoga, meditation, and breathing. Spend time in nature. Restrict violent video games but allow virtual sports, particularly if they take up a real one.
Listen to our podcast Supporting Youth in Achieving Digital Wellness: Spiritual Health, Learning and Productivity with Anthony Rao, PsyD. and Adrienne Principe, founder and executive director of Turning Life On
- Turkle, S., 2015, Reclaiming Conversation, The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, Penguin Books, New York, New York
- Napper, P. and Rao, A., 2019, The Power Agency, St. Martin’s Press, New York, New York.