Over the last 17-months, people have had to embrace a more full-on digital lifestyle, and everything that it entails. From shopping to entertainment, working and attending virtual classes, looking for love and even building online communities with friends and family, the way we live and engage with one another is now driven by our connectivity. But how seriously are we taking the stress and anxiety that this has invariably caused in our lives? Enter the concept of digital wellness.
Digital wellness can be defined as the impact that digital technology and devices have on a person’s mental, physical, emotional, and social health. Not only does this involve the way we interact with technology, but it also focuses on how to effectively build and maintain a balance in our online and offline lives. Of course, thanks to continued lockdown conditions it is easier said than done to simply switch off and carry on as if everything is normal.
According to a recent global study, people think technology has a neutral or even positive impact on their wellbeing. However, when it comes to how often people perform an activity and how they feel that affects them, the results highlight several concerns. For instance, 28% of respondents feel looking at content on their devices before they go to sleep will negatively impact their wellbeing. Similarly, 26% of people believe that using more than one screen at a time is also not good for them.
“This points to a growing awareness of how important digital wellbeing is. Today, it has become less about what we need to do online and more about better managing everything we do in the digital space. Now the focus is on making using the Internet as comfortable and convenient as possible without adding to our stress which is already high given the current COVID-19 pandemic,” says Bethwel Opil, Enterprise Sales Manager at Kaspersky in Africa.
People however are still learning to nurture this relationship with technology so that we can better trust systems and devices especially with our personal data. We are still figuring out how to use these digital devices more mindfully to avoid potential anxiety or burnout.
“At Kaspersky, we believe that digital wellbeing should be everyone’s priority, especially in these rapidly changing times,” says Opil.
Take older generations as an example. They might not have necessarily been accustomed to and comfortable with all things digital, but to stay in touch with loved ones, they had to undergo a mind shift. Even children, who are growing up with technology, have had to adapt to digital schooling at times when face-to-face classes were not possible.
“Families and employees are faced with a cyber wellness and online safety challenge due to divided attention, pressure to constantly be available on numerous platforms and navigating new ways of working. This is difficult to manage when they themselves might not necessarily be comfortable or even be aware of all the digital tools available to children and teenagers,” says Rianette Leibowitz, cyber wellness and digital parenting expert.
She says that cyberbullying and online predators are some of the threats that parents cannot ignore. These risk factors add to their anxiety when it comes to balancing their lives with digital wellbeing simply becoming an afterthought.
“While we are juggling both the risks and opportunities presented by cyber space, let’s remember that we have the power to take charge of our digital habits and to compartmentalise all these areas into manageable chunks. To alleviate the negative impact of screen time and disconnected relationships, we should carve out time each day to disconnect from our devices in order to connect with our loved ones, pets, environment and ourselves. We have the opportunity to create real memorable moments with people who care instead of inflaming hashtag movements. This will empower the youth and teach them skills they need for the off-line world and their digital well-being,” adds Leibowitz.
Of course, we do not need to give in to our digital anxieties. There are several ways to help ensure a healthy digital life that places digital wellness at the centre.
“This can include everything from switching off your device notifications for an hour a day to ergonomically enhancing your workspace and the children’s study area. You can even consider installing dedicated noise reduction apps to block out loud external sounds like lawnmowers and dogs barking during work hours. It is about thinking differently about technology and using it in ways to enhance our lives without adding to our stress levels,” adds Opil.
For more information, please visit the recently launched Kaspersky Cyber Spa platform designed to provide people with several relaxation options to improve their digital wellbeing. These include audio-visual meditations, audio relaxation therapy, tactile anti-stress meditation, and exercises aimed at removing signs of stress and negative emotions.
Kaspersky is a global cybersecurity company founded in 1997. Kaspersky’s deep threat intelligence and security expertise is constantly transforming into innovative security solutions and services to protect businesses, critical infrastructure, governments and consumers around the globe. The company’s comprehensive security portfolio includes leading endpoint protection and a number of specialized security solutions and services to fight sophisticated and evolving digital threats. Over 400 million users are protected by Kaspersky technologies and we help 250,000 corporate clients protect what matters most to them. Learn more at www.kaspersky.co.za.
About Rianette Leibowitz
Rianette focuses on Cyber Wellness and is on a mission to save lives by taking a more holistic view of our digital habits. Rianette founded SaveTNet Cyber Safety (which helps cyber crime victims), is a Brand SOUTH AFRICA Play Your Part Ambassador, Author, TV & Podcast Presenter and Digital Parenting Expert. As a speaker she has spoken to global audiences like TEDx, the Global Leadership Summit, Campus Party International and was featured in the international documentary film, “Public Figure”. In her book “Raising a SCREEN SAVVY Child”, (also available in Afrikaans) Rianette empowers families to become responsible digital citizens. Rianette speaks at schools, churches, companies and conferences and has played a significant role in the development of cyber safety toolkits for schools and corporate cyber wellness programmes for companies. By being part of the Executive Women’s Forum based in America and other mentoring and leadership development programmes she grows her international network. Rianette has won numerous awards with the latest being ‘Women of Wonder Award 2020”. www.rianette.com and www.savetnet.com.