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Setting boundaries in a digital age

Digital media has become so intertwined with our day-to-day life that it can be difficult to draw a line between our real and virtual life. Despite the multitude of benefits that have come with the popularisation of social media, it remains critical that we ensure our social media usage does not infringe upon our wellness. 

 

As explored in the previous article (Recognising when social media is affecting our wellness), identifying when things go too far is a crucial first step in mitigating the dangers of social media. With a better understanding of the factors that affect our wellness, let’s now talk about how we can set boundaries with the digital world even as our lives become increasingly dependent on it.

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What does boundary-setting mean?

Setting boundaries does not mean that Internet-usage is entirely off-limits, rather, it means taking a step back from digital media at times. Not only is this helpful in mitigating the potential negative effects of social media, it has been found to reduce depressive symptoms in users (Liao, 2019). 

 

An effective way to do this would be through intentionally limiting our usage of our digital devices. As netizens with the habit of picking up our phones every now and then, how can we make a “digital detox” feasible, and more importantly, something we can stick to frequently?

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Tips to set digital boundaries

It may sound like a challenge, but digital boundaries are certainly possible! Our mobile phones are actually equipped with a range of tools to help us improve our digital wellness. Here are some tips to fully utilise them:

1. Get rid of notifications

With our phones constantly receiving notifications, we often feel the pressure to address each text message or email. This can take a toll on the way we balance different aspects of our lives, in a culture where the line is already so blurred. 

 

To counter this, the Do Not Disturb (DND) function can be particularly helpful, by restricting notifications during certain periods of the day! There is full flexibility to customise our DND hours, or even apps that can send us notifications, according to whenever we need time away from our phones (or our work messages). It also allows for different versions of DND to be crafted for different routines (ie. work, sleep, personal)*.

 

*Disclaimer: Only works for iPhone users, but android users can still customise manually.

 

Worried about missing urgent calls? Fret not, DND mode can be set to allow calls from certain people.

 

2. Limit app accessibility

This is for those of us who instinctively click on social media apps when we’re bored! By limiting our accessibility to certain apps, we can ensure that our phone usage is intentional.

 

Possible ways to do this:

  1. Delete the app and only use the desktop version, so it takes a while to load and the interface is usually less optimised 

  2. Rearrange the apps every few weeks, which forces us to to consciously choose where to click 

  3. [For iPhone users] Remove the app from home screen such that the app must be intentionally searched up in order to be opened

 

3. [iPhone special] Decluttering notifications

Tired of seeing random occasional notifications popping up? Besides being annoying, these random notifications could sometimes send us down a rabbit hole of mindless scrolling.

 

For iPhone users, you can overcome this by using the Scheduled Summary function, which sends a consolidation of notifications from selected apps only once a day!

 

Beyond using these amazing functions, another strategy could be intentionally setting aside time, such as a detox hour, to step away from technology. A digital detox doesn’t have to be boring, scheduling offline activities during this time could be a helpful alternative. This could mean enjoying the surroundings on the journey home rather than scrolling social media, or perhaps committing to finish a meal without watching television.

 

Some may prefer to limit digital device usage in certain spaces, such as the bedroom or the dining table. This has the added benefit of encouraging us to live in the moment and to connect with our loved ones, especially when the time calls for that.

 

Each of us is different, and different strategies will play out differently for each of us. Do try these tips and find out what truly works to improve your digital wellness with Total Wellness Initiative Singapore

References

Liao, W. (2019). Put Your Smartphone Down: Preliminary Evidence that Reducing Smartphone Use Improves Psychological Well-being in People with Poor Mental Health. Source - Put Your Smartphone Down: Preliminary Evidence that Reducing Smartphone Use Improves Psychological Well-being in People with Poor Mental Health (otago.ac.nz)

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