Technology can be helpful in maintaining health when used thoughtfully and in moderation.
Like any set of behaviours, the use of technology can have positive or negative impacts on your wellbeing. The eSafety Commissioner has some recommendations for healthy technology use.
Physical health and fitness
Fitness tracking technology such as step-counting or running apps can help motivate people to exercise and increase their levels of activity.
Modern game consoles have the ability to track movement, which has allowed for the development of games like Just Dance, which require players to stand up and dance, as well as more fitness-focused games that use the same technology.
Augmented reality (AR) games like Pokemon Go encourage players to go for long walks in order to get the most out of the game.
To help reduce eye strain, take regular breaks from using screens using the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 metres away for 20 seconds.
Psychological health and fitness
Mindfulness and meditation apps for smartphones have made access to these practices much easier. Recent research suggests that mindfulness practice may help people break bad habits.
People who are feeling isolated can find support through social media and other online forums. Beyond Blue has easily accessible online chat and forums, as well as guides to more resources and help.
Digital technology also makes some therapeutic treatments much more accessible. Recent research shows that clinically developed online therapy can be highly effective. Many free, confidential programs are available for use.
If you are having trouble falling asleep due to insomnia or a noisy environment, there are some apps that may help, whether by playing white noise or using short guided meditations.
When it comes to getting enough sleep, however, the best thing to do might be to turn your devices off and take a break. Most digital devices can now apply a blue light filter to reduce disruption to sleep patterns from screen light, but social media updates and the temptation of auto-playing videos can make it difficult to get to sleep.
Curriculum and syllabus links
NSW Syllabus outcomes
Australian Curriculum content descriptions
- 'Balancing online time', The Office of the eSafety Commissioner, accessed 14 March 2019
- 'Using pedometers to increase physical activity and improve health: a systematic review.', Bravata et al, JAMA 2007, accessed 14 March 2019
- 'Mindfulness training disrupts Pavlovian conditioning.', Hanley and Garland, Physiology & Behaviour 2019, accessed 14 March 2019
- 'Efficacy of self-guided internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy in the treatment of depressive symptoms', Karyotaki et al, JAMA Psychiatry 2017, accessed 14 March 2019
- 'Get immediate support', Beyond Blue, accessed 14 March 2019
- 'Welcome to eheadspace', Headspace, accessed 14 March 2019