Digital Wellness for Parents: Prioritizing Your Own Habits in the Digital Age
Monday, April 24, 2023
As the world becomes more and more digitally connected, it's easy to get lost in the endless cycle of notifications, social media feeds, and work emails. But, as a parent, it's important to take a step back and reflect on your own digital habits. Are you spending too much time on your phone or computer? Are you constantly checking your email during family time? Do you find it hard to disconnect from technology?
I realized that I was NOT practicing what I was preaching to my own students and kids. I was a slave to my phone, I admit it. I was checking every text immediately. I was answering every email right then and there. Out with the family doing something fun? I was posting it in that moment. It was not healthy, and I realized I had a problem. How could I ask my kids to change their habits if I wasn't working on my own? That's what led me down the path of studying and certifying in digital wellness, and so began my own transformation to feeling a bit better about my digital life. I now have a passion for it, mostly because my students bought into the message of digital wellness vs. digital citizenship (which often came with demonizing tech).
It's important to acknowledge that digital wellness isn't just for teenagers and young adults. Parents also need to prioritize their own digital wellness to set a positive example for their children and maintain a healthy work-life balance. They really do watch what we do, and they are the first to say, "You're not doing it, why should I?" I know, we're the parents, and we should be able to make the rules. But why not get them on board by examining your own habits and practicing what you preach? Here are some areas to reflect on and tips to help improve your digital wellness:
Taking Movement Breaks: Sitting in front of a screen for long periods of time can take a toll on your physical health. It's important to take movement breaks throughout the day to stretch your legs, get some fresh air, and give your eyes a break from the screen. Try setting a timer for every hour or so to remind yourself to take a quick walk or stretch break. You can also incorporate movement into your daily routine, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going for a walk during your lunch break. Take it from me, nothing worse than sciatica...and mine gets crazy bad when sitting too long at the computer.
The Myth of Multitasking: Many of us pride ourselves on our ability to multitask, but research shows that it actually hinders productivity and can be detrimental to our mental health. Did you know that you can't actually do two cognitive tasks at the same time? When we try to do multiple things at once, we're not giving any one task our full attention and can become overwhelmed and stressed. You then add that fun fact that it takes up to 23 minutes to refocus (solo task), and you realize you actually wasted time trying to multitask. Instead, try focusing on one task at a time and giving it your full attention. You may find that you're able to complete tasks more efficiently and with higher quality.
Creating an Environment that Promotes Productivity and Efficiency: It's important to create a workspace and digital environment that promotes productivity and efficiency. This may mean decluttering your digital space, minimizing distractions, and setting boundaries with work emails and notifications. You can also try using productivity tools, such as time management apps or website blockers, to help you stay focused and on task. Try to create a space that inspires you, appeals to your 5 senses, and helps you feel calm. Get rid of the physical and digital clutter in your work spaces.
Being Present in Conversations: One of the biggest challenges of the digital age is being present in conversations with others. It's easy to get distracted by notifications or social media feeds, but it's important to give the people you're with your full attention. When you're having a conversation, try to put your phone away and be fully present in the moment. This not only shows respect for the other person, but it also helps you build stronger relationships and connections. I think this is the one we all need to work on the most. There's a concept called 'phubbing'. This is when we check our phones while in a conversation with someone else. The brain receives that as pain!
Digital wellness is important for everyone, including parents. By acknowledging your own digital habits and reflecting on areas where you can improve, you can set a positive example for your children and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Remember to take movement breaks, avoid multitasking, create a productive environment, and be present in conversations. By prioritizing your own digital wellness, you can lead a happier and more fulfilling life.