The change in our use of tech in the last year
While we can celebrate how quickly and successfully, we adapted to working remotely and digitally, we also need to acknowledge the profound impact our lives, at home and work, and our health – physical and mental.
We readily accepted the benefit that the internet and collaborative technologies brought us, by keeping us connected to carry on working. Technology allowed us to keep in touch with our connections and loved ones, but research has progressed our understanding of how these changes have affected:
- Our work performance and wellbeing, for example digital distraction and presenteeism.
- Our increased exposure to technologies, leading to digital fatigue.
As the hybrid working model emerges, it is an opportunity to reflect on ways to achieve a healthier balance – using technology to keep us connected and productive, while reducing and mitigating the risks to ourselves.
So how can we tackle this?
Cyberpsychology provides us with tools to make sense of our technology
So, what is cyberpsychology?
It is the study of the interaction between human beings, society and technology.
It answers the fundamental questions of how the rise in technology may affect humanity, now and in the future. It helps us to understand how a progressively more technologically exposed society affects our mental health.
Assessing the impact of technology can be challenging from a psychological research perspective due to the diversity of devices, content, audiences, purposes and context. Offering a meaningful comparison between these human-computer interactions which are happening simultaneously can be difficult. But cyberpsychology is a multi-disciplinary field covering a wide range of industries as its scope encompasses anywhere with an online presence.
Universities have broken down cyberpsychology into these subtopics:
- Mental health online
- The self in cyberspace
- Online dating/ relationships
- Online communications/ marketing
- Online psychological applications/ healthcare
- Psychology of artificial intelligence/ virtual reality
- Online addiction
- Online and video gaming
- Computer forensics
- Children’s/ teens use of digital technologies
- User Experience
- Human Computer Interaction
Cyberpsychology allows us to draw from scientific literature to measure the impact of technology on human behaviour, mental health, and wellbeing.
As the overlap between man and machine expands, the relevance of human-computer interaction (HCI) research will only increase. And, with the rising number of internet and computer users around the world, it is evident that technology's effects on the human psyche will continue to significantly shape both our interactions with each other and our perceptions of the world that is literally "at our fingertips”.
So, what can we do to strike a healthy lifestyle?
When working from home, its important to recognise that it is OK to...
- Consider coming to the office if it is safe and convenient to do so
- Book time off, so you don’t feel overwhelmed
- Declutter your work desk
- Eliminate the distractions where possible
- Focus on one thing at a time
- Manage expectations with your clients
- Allow for quiet time away from your work laptop and phone during lunchbreaks
- Turn off all notifications after work is finished
- Set out of office emails automatically after work and during holidays
- Ask for help and collaborate
- Keep open channels of communication so you don’t feel isolated
- Block out time in your calendar for uninterrupted work time
- Plan breaks between meetings
- Re-think how you want to manage your calendar & your availability
Outside work, it’s important to recognise that it is OK to…
- Pause and ask why, before you habitually use your mobile phone, laptop, or any other device
- Plan some screen-free activities in the week and give yourself a break
- Turn down screen-brightness or use dark mode before bedtime to increase readiness for sleep
- Pause notifications or turn them off completely
- Delete any unnecessary apps, you don’t use on your phone
- Set up screen limits on your devices
- Spend time outside in nature
This is all great advice, but in practice, it can be difficult so look after yourself, ask others to support you in this change, and offer support to others.
References and recommended reading:
- Cybercognition by Lee Hadlington (recommended book)
- Galpin, A. & Taylor, G. (2018). Changing behaviour: Children, adolescents and screen use. British Psychology Society Behaviour Change Briefs (Online)