Digital Hygiene and Cognitive Health

There is a relatively recent idea of ‘digital wellbeing’ or ‘wellness’. Even the big tech companies are creating ‘features’ to help, but I’d say they are the ones to trust. And their so-called ‘help’ is to perhaps offer an illusion of health, while designing for addiction.

In general, the concept of being more thoughtful about our use of digital tools is a good step, I think. It’s important that we all take time to evaluate our use of digital devices and applications and consider whether they are doing us harm or good; whether they are bringing the benefits that we think they are, or are actually causing us harm. 

As a label, however, I’m not sure it works. It also focuses only on digital technology, rather than life in general. It’s not only relevant to social media and mobile devices and apps, but also to work-related email and instant messaging software which can be equally problematic.

It’s not the digital that needs to be well, it’s us. It’s our physical and mental health. And this mostly relates to our mental health, considering the cognitive load related to being a digital resident and the addictive nature of social media. Our eyes, thumbs and wrists aren’t thanking us for the strain, but it’s our brains that hurt the most. 

As a result, I can’t help but think that ‘cognitive wellbeing’, or ‘cognitive health’ might be a better label. Or some kind of mash up comprising a connection between digital behaviour and cognitive health.

Could ‘digital hygiene’ be an option? I see that ‘sleep hygiene’ is a thing and ‘dental hygiene’ obviously is.

Anyway, all these are just labels, as someone once said.

Essentially, we need to focus more on any form of mental strain that impacts upon our brain’s ability to do its job. The impact of digital technology is a significant part of this, but the key would be a focus on how things affect our cognitive processing and productivity. The more we talk about this openly and think about how we work with digital technology can only be a good thing. 

If you have any comments or info to share, feel free to comment below.

Thanks for reading!


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