Safer Internet Day 2020 will be taking place on Tuesday, 11th February. Now in its 17th year, this day was created to promote safer internet for all users, especially young people.
Every year the day promotes and highlights the importance of internet safety. With technology becoming more and more ubiquitous it is so important the users are aware on how to use the internet safely and knowing when we should switch off from technology. The internet can be a great way to expand an individual’s knowledge on a certain topic or to stay connected to friends and family who live abroad but it can also have a negative effect on users.
Research has shown that digital consumption is a huge part of our everyday lives, through our tablets, smartphones, laptops, etc. The Pew Research Centre regularly conducts large-scale sample size research across the world and their 2017 research estimates that across 39 countries, a median of 75% of adults surveyed use the internet. Another study that tracked smartphone usage over two weeks (29 participants aged 18-33) found that they spent approximately 5.05 hours a day using their phone and checked their phone on average 85 times a day.
The potential impacts of spending so much time online can be quite harmful to our mental well-being. It can result in a sense of isolation, an expectation of instant gratification, and deficits in social skills. We may begin to show signs of obsession and compulsion, addiction, or attention deficit. These impacts are correlated with the need to check for messages, a desire to show your most glamorous side of life and experiencing things like phantom vibrations. We also can’t forget physical problems that may occur, such as vision loss, hearing loss, neck strain and sitting too much
Tips for managing digital consumption:
1) “Unplug” for 24 hours: Avoid technology use for one day, perhaps arranging a day out with friends/family to keep you connected to the real world.
2) Be present with friends and family: Put away your device when you’re engaging with others in the real world and talk to the people in front of you. Real-time conversation allows us to notice peoples’ facial expressions and tone of voice which can often be misread through a message.
3) Keep work and home life separate: When you’ve left the workplace, make a conscious effort not to respond to work-related messages until you’re back in the office. This will help you be more present at home with your friends or family.
4) Switch off push notifications: Constant buzzing or pings from notifications are distracting and keep us constantly linked to our devices. Turning off push notifications reduces feelings of having to respond to something immediately.
5) Adjust your blue light: devices have a Night Mode which will adjust your screen’s blue light to a more relaxing colour tone. Blue light can mess up your circadian rhythm and hormone cycles making it more difficult to fall asleep.
The internet is a great way to connect us all around the world and is there to be enjoyed but also be sure to stay safe when online.
1Poushter, J., Bishop, C., & Chwe, H. (2018). Social media use continues to rise in developing countries but plateau across developed ones. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/06/Pew-Research-Center-Global-Tech-Social-Media-Use-2018.06.19.pdf
2Andrews, S., Ellis, D.A., Shaw, H., & Piwek, L. (2015). Beyond self-report: Tools to compare estimated and real-world smartphone use. PLoS ONE, 10(10): e0139004. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139004