Digital Wellbeing, What Is It, And Are The Applications That Help Us Actually Helping?
Written by Josh Morton
With the ever increasing presence of smartphones and technology in our lives, people and companies have started to question the effect these devices have on the people that use them. Ironically people turn to applications to assist them in maintaining a healthy phone/life balance . This blog aims to speak to the topic of digital wellbeing, what it is and whether the tools that we have been given to deal with our high level of technology consumption are actually assisting us.
Firstly, we need to define digital wellbeing. Now there is a large amount of research and debate on how to define this concept but for the sake of this blog, we will define it as “a subjective experience of optimal balance between the benefits and drawbacks from mobile connectivity”. It is difficult to balance these benefits and drawbacks as most of us find our mobile devices to be the most essential part of our daily operating life. Whether it is work or social, your smartphone can do it all and it is all stored in your pocket.
This balance, or lack thereof, has not gone unnoticed by the tech community. Pressure from users led to large technology companies such as Apple and Android releasing native digital wellbeing applications in recent years. In addition to these native applications, third party applications such as Forest, Tide and Headspace, to name a few, have emerged each with their own unique features. These features include highlighting accurate data (iOS screen time), Gamification (Forest) and complete separation from one’s device (Headspace). These three different strategies show just how subjective digital wellbeing really is. All of these applications have gained a great deal of popularity over the past 3 years, showing how users are, in a way, desperate to achieve digital wellbeing.
In a recent study an investigation into these applications and their relative effectiveness was performed using a well known psychological concept, uses and gratifications. Put simply Uses and gratifications describes how a ‘use’ , be it an application or an activity, is favoured if a valid gratification is received by the user. Translating this into the digital wellbeing example which we mentioned above it is clear to see that these various applications exist to suit users desired gratifications; be it numerical information or growing a forest (Forest).
The study found that although these applications were useful and provided insight on phone consumption to the user, the only real motivating factor to stop using the smartphone and break the ‘addiction’ was via being mindful of their usage. This was done by separating themselves from the device and performing a different task, or acknowledging their phone use and keeping mental track of their limit.
This finding begs another question, which will not be answered in this blog, if technology companies know that their applications are not assisting users to the best of their ability, are they not just painting a false facade over their brand by making themselves seem active in trying to promote digital wellbeing through application use?
Although the concept of digital wellbeing may seem complex, the solution is simple. By promoting mindful actions around smartphones you can create a healthy relationship with your phone that promotes those benefits and mitigates the drawbacks.
SovTech is a custom software development company providing a complete software design and development service. We design, build, deploy and maintain innovative custom software that gives our clients the opportunity to start, run and grow world-class businesses. SovTech believe technology will be at the core of businesses of the future. We aim to connect businesses across all industries to innovative software, technological development, solutions and services, in a manner that’s faster, easier and better than ever before. To date, we are operating across continents and have offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town, London and Dubai.
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For more information and statistics read this article by Think with Google.
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