Academic Skills Blog - Digital Wellbeing

Let us shine a light on tips and tools to support your research process. This week: digital wellbeing.

hands typing into Google on a laptop

It is Love Your Library week here at Wolfson, with a focus on well being, and so we wanted to highlight ways of healthy online engagement.

Do you get anxious when your phone is low on battery? Why is that? In many cases it is because we worry about being out of contact. We are social beings. While there are many reports about phone-zombies, with heads buried in a phone rather than smiling at passers-by to say hello, it could be argued that digital technology has only sought to encourage our desire to communicate and stay in touch.

What people want from being online is often what they want from their face-to-face world. We seek out ways to connect, find information, relax, learn, de-stress and participate with others.

Digital wellbeing is less about the act of disconnecting from technology and more about the simplicity of understanding that you are in control of your digital destiny. Technology doesn't have to cause problems if we use it responsibly and to aid and assist us in our goals. So engage with what you read but stay critical. This isn't just using being alert to 'fake news' but also questioning why you agree with something rather than simply bolstering your views about what you disagree with. It is easy to follow like-minded people on social media and we can run the risk of not exposing our selves to alternative perspectives.

That said, it is easy to become distracted when online. This may be keeping in touch on social media or it may be about following up links on an academic webpage, googling things we read about in an article, or checking email while simultaneously trying to write an essay or thesis. Now that the boundary between work and leisure has been eroded by 24/7 access to the online environment, it can be healthy to lay down parameters.

So if you are looking for ways to turn off consider:

  • Leaving your phone at home or keeping it on silent and in a drawer at night
  • Scaring yourself by registering with Checky* to see how often you use it
  • Using Pocket* to collate and read your links at a later date
  • Unsubscribing from services you don’t use and emails you don't want
  • Finding a focused place to work, such as a library or Shut Up and Write session, where peer pressure will stop you checking your phone
  • Prioritising and organising your tasks using apps like Trello*
  • Block out distracting sites for a set time (and plant virtual trees!) using Forest*
  • Saving time and automating processes with IFTTT

To find out more, look at the LibGuide tab on Digital Wellbeing.

*please note that we do not endorse the content of external apps.

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