As I wrap up this semester, and my major project for EC&I 832, the quote “the journey is more important than the destination” comes to mind.
When starting this project, I remember emailing Alec (sorry!!) multiple times to clarify if I was “on the right track.” I was so concerned with what my final “product” would be. He told me to focus less on that, but rather the process of it, and of course, he was right!
I started off with a more jaded view of Digital Health & Wellness. Technology addiction, narcissism, distraction, depression, anxiety, the need for instant gratification… how are students ever going to navigate the digital world with all these ever increasing issues and problems working against them? The more the semester went on though, and the more I began to reflect on my own social media use, the more I started to think about all the power for good it has, and how that outweighs the negatives — if we’re taking the time to educate and teach proper use, etiquette and digital health in schools. (Plus the other elements of Digital Citizenship from Ribble!) Two terrible tradegys which have occured recently with a school shooting in Florida and the Humboldt broncos bus crash, have further solidified my faith in humanity and the positive power of social media. #marchforourlives and #humboldtstrong continue to amaze and inspire me everyday. This mindset change has been an important part of my journey, and continues to impact how I talk to students, colleagues, friends and family about positive, and ultimately healthy social media use each day.
As I spoke about in my Summary of Learning for the class, so much of what I did this semester, was viewed through a Digital Health and Wellness lens. Everything I was reading, tweeting, and thinking about came back to digital health. My own personal use of technology and social media has been affected, as I have learned so much along the way of how I can better balance and manage my time online. Check out a few of my favorite reads on that here, here, and here. All of these offer great ideas, and tips to better take charge of your digital health.
Some of the biggest ways I’d like to share that my learning has impacted my own digital health are:
- Turning off push notifications for Facebook and Instagram. Not having my phone light up with memes I’m getting tagged in (I seriously love memes, please keep tagging me in all dog memes), or comments or likes, really helps me feel less inclined to always be checking my phone and seeing if there is anything new. When I have time and choose to open Facebook or Instagram, I am either surprised, or not affected at all by any notifications. I so far have kept Twitter push notifications on, but I am getting close to turning them off. I get way too many “in case you missed so and so’s tweet, or have you seen..” and this is not at all what I want pushed to my phone. Unless I figure out how to turn off these specific random notifications that I don’t care about, push notifications for Twitter will also go off. I am not popular enough to turn off push notifications for Snapchat. If I get one Snapchat every week it is pretty exciting, so I’ll keep that excitement notification for now.
- No (or less) phone before bed. Yes, I use my phone as an alarm and charge it in my room… despite all the suggestions. I have made a conscious effort to read a book before bed. Not having screen time right before bed is something I am working really hard on. I find myself relentlessly scrolling for hours in bed, especially if I can’t fall asleep. I found myself doing a lot of tweeting at this time, but have tried to set some time aside to scroll Twitter earlier in the day when I am more alert and energized. There is too much good stuff on there! By reading an actual, paper book, I find I can get to sleep faster, and I also don’t waste hours of precious sleep time because I am creeping on 2 years worth of someone’s Instagram pics. I also love reading for enjoyment – rather than just scholarly articles, so this has been a great activity for me.
- Being more genuine and purposeful with my interactions. These come from the second article I mentioned above – seriously read it. I am trying to be very aware with what exactly I am doing online at a particular time – and if it is just mindlessly scrolling, there needs to be a max time I’m willing to spend on that. I also want to be the same person I am on social media as I am in “real life”. Yes I look best in photos of my good side with the Valencia filter, but what I am sharing should enhance my experience and my connection with others, not take away from it. I want to be the same caring friend out for coffee as I want to be commenting “Congratulations” on your exciting Facebook post. Being less caught up in showing my “perfect” life vs. my actual life has been a tricky mindset change, but one that is important.
- Being aware of my time online. Checking the battery usage setting on my iPhone that I shared with my students in my presentation, is a game changer. Why yes, I have spent way too much time on Instagram today.
5. Listening to myself. If social media is making me feel negatively about myself because all I see is friends posting engagement pics (#foreveralone), or the Kardashians baby drama infiltrates every inch of what I’m seeing, or Trump’s just being Trump, then I may need to take a break. It doesn’t always need to be as drastic as completely denting the apps for a long time period, but it’s okay to go have a bath and leave your phone downstairs. Or to ask your friends to text you because you won’t be checking the Facebook group chat for a while. Self-care is huge, and I need to take care of myself digitally sometimes.
For quick reference, here are a list of the blogs and some of the learning I explored this semester regarding digital health & wellness.
I have genuinely learned so much this semester through our course content and my own journey through my project. Thanks for a great semester Alec and EC&I 832 classmates! I look forward to EC&I 830 starting up in a few weeks!