4 Ways To Improve Your Digital Hygiene
Digital hygiene is a term I first heard of earlier this year. In simple terms, it entails having a healthy relationship with your digital environment/life.
In this century, our digital environments are full of all sorts of technology in form of software and hardware, from simple text messages all the way to complex algorithms and machines.
With the digital environment, life has become a lot easier for us to communicate with other people all around the world in an instant.
This is probably the best time to be alive when it comes to communication and technology and it’s going to even get better but it also has its downsides.
We all know how technology has affected us from our attention spans to facts, theories, and speculations of harmful radiations.
I am not here to tell you how bad the digital environment can be since there are so many documents about that but I am going to talk about how you can use your digital environment in harmony with your life outside anything digital.
This is not about quitting social media and going to the middle of nowhere to live in solitary and eat berries. This article is about how you can live harmoniously with everything digital that exists today.
Yes, in this case, you can eat your cake and have it as well.
1. Improve your attention span while in the digital environment. (Make it a habit)
There is no denying that most of us today have very short attention. Science and research still cannot attribute the shorter attention spans to technology but we can agree that it also contributes to the attention span problem due to the nature of its fast feedback.
Proper digital hygiene in this case would mean to take a conscious effort to hold your attention for a long time and train yourself to improve your attention while using technology.
This could mean sitting through a movie on Netflix without checking your phone or opening another tab. If it is an online course you are taking, make sure that you complete it before moving on to the next one. It could be anything that causes you to multitask while using digital products and services.
Look at this as developing a habit. It is hard to do at first but the more you do it, the easier it becomes over time. According to research done by Phillippa Lally a health psychology researcher at University College London and her team, it would take about 66 days to form a new habit.
Take a deliberate effort to train yourself in being able to stick to one thing at a time.
How you can do it.
In a recent study, teachers were able to improve the attention span of elementary school children by increasing their motivation for doing P.E with the help of assistive robots.
You won’t need robots of course but you can do something similar by training your attention along the lines of motivation when you are in the digital environment.
When you are watching a movie, you can increase your attention by watching that movie with the goal of finding some important lesson or technique that could help you in your life as opposed to just binging only for the sake of an escape.
Or if you are listening to an audio, make sure you find something meaningful that you can take away from the audio recording. When I listen to music, for example, I always listen closely to the melody to find interesting chords that I can use in my own music. Yes, I tend to geek out that much when it comes to music but the attention I give to finding new chords and melodies has helped my music become better and this is how I have learned all the music I know.
Finding a motivation to attach to your activities within the digital environment will train your brain to stick to the task and in time will also increase the average time you concentrate while in the digital environment
2. Have a digital footprint you can be proud of
Do you know those influencers that get canceled or close to it because of things they did in the past and all they keep saying is “ I was young then, that no longer reflects my values and who I am as a human being…”? There many people who never take any lesson from the experiences of such people.
Nothing on the internet is forgotten.
Those who do decide to hide behind fake profiles and use the internet in the worst way possible. Sliding into people’s DM’s with threats, perverted propositions, and scams, or leaving mean and hateful comments on other people’s content.
Digital hygiene also requires that you stop doing these things. Not just because they are stupid and immature or hurtful and disrespectful to other people, but they also keep you in a cycle of negativity that hinders your development and can also lead to other problems including health problems.
When you google your name, what is it you would like to see? A bunch of conspiracy theories, scam alerts, or some form of an ambitious initiative for human development?
Of course, not everyone wants to cure diseases around the world and I get it but I think that most people would feel good about having made a positive contribution to the world.
There are names you can google today and all you will get are scam alerts or conspiracy theories.
Your digital hygiene has to be such that the content that you contribute to the digital environment benefits humanity rather than setting it a step back.
How you can do this
Pick something you care about and find a way to use it for the benefit of humanity. Teach, inspire, entertain and you will be on the right course as long as your message is positive.
3. Learn to Unplug
Most people find it hard to stay away from their devices for an hour. The only time that happens is when they are asleep. I used to struggle with this too. Always checking my phone was a habit I could not shake off.
But my digital hygiene involves unplugging for some time every day. To make it easier on me, I switch off the internet at certain periods of the day so that I can have these long 6 hour periods of work without that distraction.
I cannot quit social media and the internet because I know it’s one of the best opportunities we have for our development as human beings if we can use it properly.
Unplugging for some time, however, helps you to cub the desire of constantly checking your channels and it makes the time when you do check social media much more meaningful.
Research also suggests that unplugging on a weekly basis provides holistic health benefits in the realms of mental, physical, spiritual, social, and environmental health.
How you can unplug
Unplugging can be different for each individual depending on how much attached you are to your digital world.
If you have an extreme attachment, then taking shorter unplugs of about an hour at a time can help you build up to where you can go for longer.
You can practice going out without your phone for example. If you do this, I recommend that you go with an emergency phone however like those $10-$20 phones just in case. In the meantime, you should learn to let your mind be present without the need to plug into a phone to check on updates.
I do this all the time. In fact, if I go on road trips with my friends, I leave the phone in my room since I know that there are other people with phones. I never tell them that I won't move with my phone. It is only my decision.
When I get back, I am never in a hurry to check my phone either. It is a way to let my mind know that I can do just fine without the phone. I never miss any update as well and this helps me to have a better relationship with my digital environment.
I always try to unplug about 3–6 hours a day but you do not have to take that big of a step in the beginning. Start with an hour a day and increase it from there.
4. Use your digital environment as a growth tool
Many people just use the internet to watch porn, politics, and the lives of other people on social media.
I am not going to say any of these is good or bad for you but in most cases, they do not serve you in the long run but rather serve as temporary escapes from your own reality.
It is not easy to get rid of these things due to our curious nature as human beings but there is something we can do about it. We can contrast this escapism behavior with that of self-development.
Working on new skills, relationships and projects can be one of the most important ways to get value out of our digital environments.
People will always want some form of escape but if you can add development to the equation, then you will have saved a percentage of the time you spend in the digital environment.
How you can do it.
Pick up an area you have always wanted to learn and then note down who your favorite person in that field is.
Learn all you can from that person and try to develop your unique voice from the lessons you have learned. You can then choose to share those lessons with the world or with those you care about.
Reading books can also be an advantage since there are now so many audio versions of almost all the books around. You can read(listen) and learn from the top people in various fields which helps improve your digital hygiene.
There is no doubt that technology and our digital life are very useful to us but the problem is that just like any other good thing, we tend to overuse it, and taking steps to have a healthy control of our life together with technology is the whole concept of digital hygiene.
We can begin taking steps to live harmoniously with the technological advancements we are making instead of misusing them and damaging ourselves and the planet.