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We live in a digital world 

Living in a Digital World.  Does your day go like this? As soon as you wake in the morning you roll over and grab your phone to scroll through Facebook, check your notifications, see what events your friends are “interested” in, or whose birthday it is.  After that you check your email.

Then you head out to breakfast, take an awesome photo of your bacon and eggs and turmeric late for Instagram.  Off to work you go after that, with regular peeks at Facebook, and cheeky replies to your friends by text or FB Messenger when the boss isn’t looking.

After a hard days work you go out to dinner, “check in” on FB so people know how much fun your’e having, and then head home for the evening to sit on the couch to binge watching Netflix, while checking your phone at the same time.

There is no denying it; social media and digital technology have made their mark and are affecting each of us in so many ways. 

While all this connectivity offers us never-ending entertainment and information with just the click of a remote or mouse, we have to admit that there is a price to pay for such easy access to the world through digital technology.

For those of us who excessively (some say addictively) use social media and digital technology, there can be adverse side effects, as follows:

Depression

In a study where more than 1000 students were surveyed, 22% of adolescents were logging into their social media accounts a minimum of 10 times per day, which made them more susceptible to depression. [1]

In research involving adults, high social media exposure also increased subjects’ propensity for moodiness and depression when compared to individuals with low social media exposure.[2]

Sleep Dysfunction

Frequent use of mobile phones is associated with an increase in sleep disturbances. [3]

This is especially true for those exposed to their mobile phone, tablet, computer or TV screens during the hours leading up to bedtime.

Social Interactions

Spending so much time plugged into digital technology can lead to fewer human interactions.

This leads to less social bonding or meaningful connections with the community. The result is a reduction in overall happiness and sense of wellbeing. [5]

Although we can’t deny the adverse affect digital technology is having on our health and wellbeing, you don’t need to completely unplug or go underground.

Rather than letting technology rule your day, balance it all out by having fun socializing with friends and connecting with people, enjoy nature, recharge yourself by resting.

The following six tips can help:

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1. No social media when starting your day

Set a specific time of day for when to start using social media. For example, no computer, mobile phone, radio or TV until you have arrived at school or work or are on the bus or train heading there.

2. Limited screen time is the rule of the day

Use one of several software options to block your access to certain apps or websites after you’ve reached a set amount of time or time of day. These options are available for computers and cell phones. It is important to disengage from the digital world two hours before bedtime to avoid exposure to the disruption of blue light on your body clock.

3. Switch to aeroplane mode

Your mobile phone has aeroplane mode to help you avoid being disturbed by calls or notifications. You can switch to aeroplane mode to give yourself time to disengage and relax before going to sleep. You can also use it when you want to spend quality time with family and friends so that you are not interrupted by distractions.

4. Trade screen time for another activity

Determine what else you can do for enjoyment and connection. Engage in a technology-free activity, find a jogging partner, catch up on your reading or take up a sport.

5. Establish set boundaries

Outside work hours do not check emails or the status of projects. This gives your life structure so that you can unplug after hours and on weekends. You need to allow your nervous system a much needed reset.

6. Participate in community activities

To increase opportunities for social interaction, you can get involved in volunteer work. There are food drives, animal shelters, environmental cleanups and charities looking for volunteers. You will meet others, have fun and feel great about helping your community whilst cutting down your screen time.

Happiness, a renewed focus, and social interactions await!!

Is your frequent use of digital medial affecting your mood, ability to sleep, or sense of wellbeing? Can you determine ways in which you could limit your use by perhaps just 10 or 20 minutes a day to start? You could use the extra time to personally engage with others, to focus on your loved ones, passions, hobbies, and your community. If you can commit to incorporating one or more of the tips listed above, in the upcoming week, you should experience a positive difference!

To get more information about how living in a digital world affects our health,  contact a functional medicine practitioner or a chronic fatigue specialist in Adelaide now!

[1] Punamäki RL, Wallenius M, Nygård CH, Saarni L, Rimpelä A. Use of information and communication technology (ICT) and perceived health in adolescence: the role of sleeping habits and waking-time tiredness. J Adolesc. 2007 Aug;30(4):569-85. PMID: 16979753.

[2] Lin LY, Sidani JE, Shensa A, Radovic A, Miller E, Colditz JB, et al. Association between social media use and depression among US young adults. Depress anxiety. 2016 Apr;33(4):323-31. doi: 10.1002/da.22466

[3] O’Keeffe GS, Clarke-Pearson K; Council on Communications and Media. The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. Pediatrics. 2011 Apr;127(4):800-4. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-0054.

[4] Becker MW, Alzahabi R, Hopwood CJ. Media multitasking is associated with symptoms of depression and social anxiety. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2013 Feb;16(2):132-5. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0291

[5] Lin LY, Sidani JE, Shensa A, Radovic A, Miller E, Colditz JB, et al. Association between social media use and depression among US young adults. Depress anxiety. 2016 Apr;33(4):323-31. doi: 10.1002/da.22466