Digital Wellness in the Time of COVID

digital-wellness

Photo Dimitri Karastelev

 “CoronaVirus ended the screen time debate. Screens won,” Nellie Bowles, New York Times.

In Lockdown Again

It is the end of November 2020 and many of us just started another stretch of isolation as lockdown rules were newly imposed.  On top of that, winter is beginning in Canada. Sitting or eating outside is a bit chilly.  Believe me, I tried having a birthday breakfast with a friend and we lasted about 30 minutes, despite blankets and coffee!

This means we are back to our indoor, home offices with screens looming and Zoom meetings beckoning.  Some researchers are reporting that screen addiction has become the third-largest epidemic in the past 50 years, following closely behind sugar and smoking addiction. But just because a New York Times article said that screens are winning over humans, does not mean this has to be true.  

We can do something about this and become the masters of our tools again.  Welcome to the world of digital wellbeing and digital wellness.  There is a wide array of new products and services available and new developments are growing.

What is Digital Wellbeing or Digital Wellness?

Six years after the launch of the first iPhone, the term digital detox appeared in the Cambridge dictionary.  Their definition is,

a period of time during which you do not use mobile phones, computers, etc., because you usually use these devices too much.”

Digital wellbeing does not appear to be in a dictionary….. yet.  It is a Google program, an Android app, and a TikTok feature. 

Dr. Paul Marsden, psychologist at the University of the Arts London, UK, defined it as

a state of personal wellbeing experienced through the healthy use of digital technology.”

Digital wellness is defined in various ways:

“Digital wellness is all about keeping a balance between your online life and your real life. You have to maintain both online and offline connections to satisfy all your psycho-social needs.” – Jason M. Kingdon, Boldfish

“Digital wellness refers to the state of one’s physical and mental health in the Digital Age. More specifically, digital wellness refers to preventative measures aimed at regulating and improving the healthy use of technology.  Reducing one’s activity on Facebook or monitoring time spent on a smartphone are just two examples of improving one’s digital wellness.” – Novel Co-working

Digital wellness is emerging as a new industry. This is evidenced by new organizations and initiatives including

  • The National Institute for Digital Health and Wellness
  • The Digital Wellness Institute 
  • The Global Wellness Institute’s Digital Wellness Initiative
  • BBC Digital Wellbeing Initiative

“We aim to develop a framework to understand how core human values, underpinned by psychological drivers and innate needs, are prioritised by people across different stages of their lives. In doing so, we hope to help the BBC create experiences that are relevant to audiences across these changing situations and contexts.” – BBC

The 2020 Digital Wellness Report

Bagby.co, a U.S. based digital wellness company, creates products that increase human connection by reducing screen time.  These include phone sleeping bags, non-digital alarm clocks, phone parking lots, and more.

Bagby launched a Digital Wellness Collaborative Report in 2019.  The 2020 report was recently released and includes 37 digital wellness experts from diverse professional backgrounds and 12 nationalities. MindEQuity is pleased to be a contributor, the only one from Canada, on page 20.

michelle-m-moore-canada-toronto

The report summarizes the perspectives of the pioneering leaders of this new industry.  Each contributor serves specific audiences and areas of expertise, giving rise to some interesting digital wellness industry trends:

Digital Wellness for Specific Audiences

  1. 33% primarily serve families (including teens, children, and couples).  
  2. 28% primarily serve corporations or entrepreneurs
  3. 20% primarily serve policymakers, universities, or schools
  4. 12% primarily serve professionals, individuals, or women
  5. 7% primarily serve knowledge workers, technology professionals, or other

Digital Wellness Areas of Expertise

  1. 24% help solve productivity challenges
  2. 23% contribute to mental health improvement
  3. 15% offer digital detox events or retreats
  4. 15% support parents and their kids with digital wellness solutions
  5. 14% create humane technology or support digital citizenship
  6. 10% help solve sleep issues

Improve Your Digital Wellness Today

What is the state of your digital wellness?

You can begin noticing the quality of your relationship with technology today.  If you have only a short amount of time,  please checkout previous MindEQuity insights which give you quick, practical tips to implement today.

If you have more time, download the Bagby Digital Wellness Collaborative Report where you will find 37 useful tips to help you get through this lockdown.