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College Success Skills: Digital Well-being

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Being mindful about digital activity involves acknowledging our agency in all that we do online. When we engage, we should do so willingly and knowingly. We should make active choices to delete accounts, disengage, and unsubscribe if we aren't interested. If you are driven by a desire to accrue followers or likes, as long as doing it knowingly then you are not being pushed around by social media. However, if you find yourself pointlessly scrolling through retweets at the end of the day, you might want to take a step back and think about whether digital technology is enhancing your working and social practices.

What is it? 

Digital well-being and mindfulness is not necessarily about using technology less often. Rather it is being critical about how we use technology and reflecting on our motivations to engage - are we making a positive choice or simply being pushed around by addictive platforms? 

This section will not focus on mindfulness and its links to meditation but instead on reflecting how we use technology and ensuring that it is aiding productivity and well-being, rather than hindering it.

How to Avoid Digital Distractions

Face-to-face versus online

Academia in the 21st century requires us to engage with technology on a daily basis. It is therefore very difficult to undergo a digital detox and switch off for an extended period. Digital wellness is therefore less about the act of disconnecting (which would be hard achieve) and more about the simplicity of understanding that you are in control of your digital presence and the way you interact online (more doable). It is of course sensible to take breaks for increasing your productivity and for health reasons. They are discussed elsewhere but here we reflect on why we are so connected.

Often, what people want from being online is often what they want from their face-to-face world - connection, information, time to relax, time to learn, a sense of being seen, a way to de-stress, and a way to participate.

Technology doesn't inherently cause problems; it is how we use it.

It is difficult to disentangle personal or professional spheres of engagement or tools, as our contacts and the content we digest, produce and share are, in many case, intertwined.

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