There is no doubt most of us have benefitted from the technology which allows us to stay connected, especially during COVID-19 lockdowns. Kitchen tables have become offices via Zoom, streaming services like Netflix bring live shows into our homes, and facetiming is now a verb which can replace family get-togethers. Even our health needs can be met through telehealth options and a variety of wellbeing and exercise apps.

Whilst there appears to be a link between mental health and social media, the question of whether this link is positive or negative, however, is determined by how people feel while engaging with the platforms. In other words, it’s not so much the use of devices that’s the issue, it’s the reasons and ways we use them and how we can better optimise our time on them. A good question to ask yourself is whether you are you there to connect, create or contribute? These are the activities that research has shown to provide the most rewards. You might also ask yourself whether social media is supporting your well-being and happiness. Used mindfully and in moderation, social media can enhance and enable connection to important networks and friends whilst providing alternative ways to manage anxieties.

Most of us use electronic devices many times each day, offering instant convenience, information, and connections. However, mindlessly using our devices out of habit or in place of social and/or physical activities, face to face connections with others or time in nature may lead us quickly down a negative pathway. Some tips on how to better manage our device use:

  • When you go to use a device ask yourself; is this making me better? Are you using it to connect, create or contribute?
  • Try connecting with nature before connecting with devices. Prior to using your device, go for a walk, pat your pet or get some fresh air.
  • If you have social media apps on your device, turn notifications off. In doing this you can avoid being distracted by the constant “ding”.
  • Like exercise, it is good to schedule time for device use. Habits are formed through structure and routine so plan what times you are going to use your device for daily. Initially a schedule may prove hard to stick to but practising each day will eventually lead to results and then you can decide whether you able to see positive change as a result.
  • Write a checklist of the things you want to use your device for during your allocated device time. If something pops up, add that task to your next scheduled time on your device, otherwise your time management may be compromised.