Anna Lomanowska (PhD 2011) quit social media soon after she started examining the effects of digital technologies on well-being. “I felt I had more breathing room to think,” says Lomanowska, a former assistant professor of psychology at U of T Mississauga and director of the Digital Well-Being Lab.
A researcher in cyberpsychology, Lomanowska says drastically cutting screen time is impractical for most people. Instead, she promotes strategies that support a healthy, balanced life while using technology. For example, she returned to Twitter but doesn’t have it on her phone and checks it only once a day.
Choose a nourishing “digital diet”
Lomanowska suggests we care for our brains the same way as our bodies by monitoring our digital intake. That means limiting consumption of the media equivalent of junk food, such as addictive games, and adding more wholesome fare such as self-care and meditation apps.
Be mindful about tech time
“Simply increasing our awareness about how we use technology can help take us out of autopilot, where we reach for our devices and are suddenly down a rabbit hole,” says Lomanowska, a member of the international Digital Wellness Collective, which includes professionals in education, mental health and software development. Be intentional, whether picking up your phone to check the time or sitting down to answer work email.
Skip the radical digital detox, says Lomanowska. Small changes can be “a catalyst for transformation.”
Below are some of her suggestions.
- Evaluate whether your high-use apps and websites drain or enrich your well-being, then adjust your usage accordingly.
- Don’t keep your phone on or near your body 24-7.
- Have at least one screen-free meal every day.