The use of digital technology is becoming a growing concern for many. Workplaces are seeing decreased productivity, relationships are suffering as we become increasingly distracted, and we have a new generation who doesn’t know life without digital technology. Knowing our digital behavior is a problem and doing something about it are two different stories. How do you change your digital behavior to improve your wellbeing?
Shape your environment
Changing the world around you and the prompts that trigger your behavior is the most sure-fire way to change your digital behavior. While we like to think we are in control of our decisions, we are actually responding to an internal cue (I feel sad so I eat a cookie) or an external cue (I see a cookie so I eat it). Internal cues are harder to change, but we can shift our external environment more easily. Examples of this might include, keeping our phone in a different room, sitting in a different chair than the one we use to “scroll,” or hanging out with a group of people who discourage the use of phones when you’re together.
Make desired behavior easier
If you are having trouble doing the things you want to improve your wellbeing because of your digital behavior, make the new behavior easier. For example, if you want to exercise in the morning but get lost in your emails, put your workout clothes at the side of your bed to prompt your workout. Or if you want to improve your sleep but get lost on Instagram, use timers to turn out the lights to prompt your bedtime routine. These triggers will help you change your digital behavior by making healthy choices easier.
Remind yourself you are human
Behavior science tells us that we have a difficult time predicting our future behavior. Studies find that time after time, we predict too highly that we will make good decisions in the future. We expect we will moderate our digital behavior, but we don’t. When you recognize that your human nature leans this direction, you can lean on system design, like changing your environment, to prevent you from setting the bar too high for your future self. To change your digital behavior you need to know your nature and work with it instead of against it.
Use the device causing the problem
While this might seem counterintuitive, you can fight technology with technology. In fact, that’s exactly what we do at BetterYou. Our app automatically maps how you spend your digital time and when you get off track from your preferred wellness goals, the digital coach “nudges” you into making better decisions that align with your set goals. We help you maximize your time and stay focused on goals that matter by nudging you to make different choices that change your digital behavior. We believe that digital wellbeing is not binary, neither exclusively your responsibility nor ours. It’s a combination of individual responsibility and technology.
Technology is here to stay. Being honest about whether or not you need to change your digital behavior is the first step to making the changes necessary for you to improve your wellbeing.