Wellbeing in the digital age

Living in the digital age gives the average person opportunities completely unimaginable even a generation back. It’s made work easier and provided us with more travel and leisure alternatives, but we also gained a host of new health problems.

Consumer electronics such as mobile phones make communication easy but they are also becoming increasingly intrusive and sometimes harmful. Good examples of this include social media applications like Facebook, Snapchat, or Twitter, which are great for keeping in touch with people who live far from us but can also easily encroach on our personal time and our wellbeing.

Taking one look at online bullying can reveal the dark side of these apps. An online magazine, Techjury reports that worldwide, cyberbullying is most common on Instagram (42% ), followed by Facebook (37% ) and Snapchat (31% ). Earlier this year, Eir announced its plans to include anti-cyberbullying leaflets with all the phones it sells. The World anti-bullying Forum took place at Dublin City University in June.

Not all the negative effects of communications and entertainment technology are as severe, however, with many taking on more unassuming roles in our lives. One such example is a moderate reliance on social media apps, which, if necessary, can be managed with enough awareness and by altering one’s daily schedule. Problems can arise when these habits turn into an addiction.

Although more common in the world of gaming than with social media usage, addiction can be difficult to spot when there is a lack of clearly defined norms. This can be particularly tricky when it comes to professional gaming, where not only there is a whole industry built around being a good game player, there is often a thin line between professional training a few hours a day, and addiction. What’s more, competitions such as Call of Duty Championships or eSports tournaments are highly lucrative endeavours, making long hours spent playing video games easily justifiable by parents. The 13-year-old winner of the Fortnite Championships, for example, took home $3 million only earlier this year.

The availability of gambling on mobile phones has also been taking this problem to another level. Surprisingly, and not so surprisingly, however, the gambling industry is particularly attuned to addiction problems. Precisely because of concerns like gambling addiction, the industry faces so much scrutiny that it has had to develop a way to allow its customers to enjoy themselves while keeping them safe. In order to operate, gambling companies need to meet accreditation criteria obtained through gambling regulatory bodies like the UK Gambling Association or MGA. Good affiliate and casino websites will have Responsible gambling pages which detail the steps customers can take to ensure their own safety. For example, setting a cooling-off period, whereby they irreversibly cannot access a casino for a period of time, or even self-exclusion, where players can submit their account for permanent cancellation with no option to create a new account (given that these companies often ask for identity documents such as a passport, and even bak statements, in order to monitor that none of their players gamble beyond the amount of money they can spare ).

Interestingly, while the problems mentioned stem from or are augmented by the presence of technology in our lives, technology itself can also offer help. Increasing numbers of people seek help for technology-related addiction via mobile applications, such as Headspace, Calm, or even Gambling Therapy App. Others also seek phone and online therapy, which gives access to these services to many who would previously be unable to due to location, time restrictions or even the stigma of seeking therapy.

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