As we mark the annual observance of Safer Internet Day, cultivating a safe and responsible digital environment takes centre stage. This international initiative, celebrated worldwide, aims to promote a secure and positive online experience for users of all ages.
Safer Internet Day is a reminder of the challenges and opportunities that come with our increasingly interconnected world.
Screens are increasingly becoming an integral part of our daily lives. From digital learning to social media and networking, screens are omnipresent. Whether for learning, teaching, or entertainment. Although these functionalities offer convenience for many it is also important that we find the right balance between using technology and personal well-being.
“Every year, Safer Internet Day serves as a timely reminder to reflect on our digital habits and adopt practices that promote a healthier digital lifestyle.”
How do they achieve this?
Safer Internet Day focuses on fostering awareness surrounding current concerns spanning from cyberbullying to social networking and issues related to digital identity.
The focus of this year’s Safer Internet Day is “Together for a better Internet.”
This blog looks at teaching digital wellness, exploring why it is important, and how schools and parents can work together to impart these important skills upon students.
Join us in celebrating and embracing Safer Internet Day’s mission of creating a healthier, more secure online world for all and coming together for a better internet.
Understand the Impact of Digital Devices
First, we need to understand the impact excessive screen time can have on our physical and mental health.
Prolonged use of screens has been linked to eye strain, sleep deprivation, and even adverse effects on mental well-being. There is substantial evidence suggesting these correlations with direct associations between excessive screen time with mental health concerns, such as anxiety, depression, and disturbances in sleep patterns.
The persistent exposure to social media updates, notifications, and digital stimuli is a potential contributor to heightened stress levels and an increased sense of isolation in people around the world.
Acknowledging these potential issues is the first step toward making positive changes.
1. Empowerment of the Next Generation: Digital Citizenship
It is crucial to educate children and young adults on the responsible use of screen time.
What is digital citizenship?
Collaborative efforts between schools and parents can effectively impart essential digital wellness skills that will prove beneficial for the future of students. Through the development of good habits, students may be shaped into responsible digital citizens
If you would like to learn more about how to create responsible digital citizens in your school visit our blog: Empower your Students through Digital Citizenship.
2. Create Tech-Free Zones
You can choose to designate certain areas, such as the dining table or bedroom, as tech-free zones. This will help to foster face-to-face interactions and ensure a break from screens when in these “zones”.
3. Create a Schedule
Set specific periods for screen use, both for work and leisure. Having a structured schedule helps in maintaining a sense of control over your digital activities.
If you would like to take this a step further you can also schedule time for face-to-face interactions. Allocating this time for in-person conversations fosters genuine connections and reduces the inclination to resort to virtual exchanges.
4. Mindful Breaks
Incorporate short breaks into screen time for students. Use these breaks to stretch, move around, or practise mindfulness exercises to reduce the strain on your eyes and refresh your mind.
Embracing Digital Detox
The concept of a digital detox involves intentionally disconnecting from screens to recharge and reestablish a healthy balance.
Whether it’s a few hours, a day, or an entire weekend, these breaks provide an opportunity to engage in real-world experiences and prioritize mental health.
1. Scheduled Digital Detox Days
Designate certain days during the week or month for a digital detox. Disconnecting from screens periodically can significantly contribute to improved mental clarity and reduced stress.
Further creating room for face-to-face interactions and relationship building.
2.Unplug Before Bed
The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Establish a bedtime routine that involves unplugging from electronic devices at least an hour before sleep to promote better sleep quality.
Cultivating Mindful Screen Time
There are a few ways you can cultivate mindful screen time.
Firstly, you can start with Purposeful Use.
This means being more intentional about your screen time and clearly defining the purpose of your digital activities, whether it’s learning, teaching, entertainment, or socialising, and trying to stick to those objectives.
“Another option can be to make use of Digital Wellbeing Tools. Many devices now offer digital well-being tools that allow you to monitor and limit your screen time.”
An example is setting a sleep time on your phone. That way, at a certain time every day your phone automatically goes in to sleep mode allowing you to unplug and promote better sleep.
Scheduling this an hour before bedtime will align well with an idea provided above to unplug an hour before bedtime.
Further, explore these Digital Wellbeing features and customise them according to your preferences and goals.
Lastly, you may also look to prioritise real-world connections. While digital connections are valuable, don’t forget the importance of face-to-face interactions.
Balance your online and offline social activities to foster genuine connections.
Reflecting on Progress
Regular evaluation of your digital habits, those of your students or children, will help you to identify where adjustments may be needed and intentional changes set.
Set yourself and your students a few reflective questions to learn more about how they are responding to changes in screen time:
- Am I meeting my daily goals for non-screen activities?
- How do I feel after extended periods of screen use?
- Are my digital habits aligning with my overall well-being goals?
Let’s work together for a better internet by consistently reflecting on our digital habits, we will all be better equipped to make informed decisions and maintain a healthier relationship with the seemingly ever-increasing role of technology in our daily lives.
On this Safer Internet Day, let’s prioritise our digital well-being by striking a balance between screen time and personal health.
Embrace mindful habits, set boundaries, and periodically disconnect to create a meaningful relationship with technology.
Remember, it’s not about completely avoiding screens, but about using them consciously to enhance our lives rather than detract from them.
Here’s to a healthier, more balanced digital journey in 2024!
Team Mobile Guardian