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Max Antonucci
Max Antonucci

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The #DevDiscuss Community Talk Digital Health and Addiction

On May 14th 2019, the #DevDiscuss community gathered once more. The topic? Digital health and addiction!

Over one hour we shared stories of how we dealt with digital addiction ourselves, strategies we used, and striking a healthy balance online. A lot of great info was shared, so much so it's hard to summarize into a single article.

Challenge accepted.

If you couldn't take part in the discussion and still want to see what was written, please read on!

Recognizing Digital Addiction

The first step of addressing any problem is defining it. As developers, we tend to be more familiar with digital addiction than many, buy just as vulnerable.

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This can be due to our design knowledge, higher exposure to different tech, or our own job demands.

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Or, ironically enough, our participation in Twitter chats πŸ™ƒ.

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This exposes a wider problem of digital addiction is an occupational hazard for developers, and we should take it seriously.

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Even if it's just the risk of staying online too much after said Twitter chats.

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To be fair, Impractical Jokers videos are too hilarious to pass up, even at 11 pm!

Limit Notifications

Arguable the simplest, and most effective, way to fight digital addiction is turning off notifications. Most distracting are the ones for email and social media. Those who turned them off rarely regret it.

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Second, avoid automatic notifications or subscriptions whenever possible. Anything worth getting notified about is worth manually turning notifications on (and off).

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This all falls under the "pull, don't push" rule of thumb. By not having information shoved in your face, you only look for (or "pull") the info you need.

For the notifications you keep, they should all be silenced when powering down and sleeping. Whatever it is can wait until morning.

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You can even disable all Internet access at night to remove any possible distractions.

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Manage Your Media Diet

People also touched on the media they consume each day. It was usually Twitter content, but this can apply to media like news articles too.

The best tip seems obvious but is easy to forget and can be destructive: avoid outrage-fueling content.

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(Yes, this includes outrage politics).

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But as one wise tweeter pointed out the next day, there are strategic times to engage with trolls. Pick your battles wisely.

One way to control your media diet is curating digital content into a single, third-party platform. Platforms like Twitter are designed to suck you in. Pulling tweets onto a platform without the addictive design, like RSS readers, lets you have your cake and eat it too.

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Build Healthy Digital Habits

We can build better overall habits that discourage digital addiction too. One that saves the most time: don't rush to answer every email.

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In fact, don't rush to the phone at all in the morning. I keep it in another room while it charges overnight. This removes any risk of checking it in bed and keeping my brain awake.

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I encourage any habits for getting more sleep overall, which improve every other facet of our lives.

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One major downside of digital addiction is damaging potential habits for learning new things.

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A useful habit to beat this (or a counter-habit) is making a "to learn" list outside of social media. This helps shift us away from seeing social media as our primary source of information. If something on Twitter jumps out at you, save it somewhere else and avoid getting sucked in.

Lastly, schedule extra blocks of time to not use your phone at all.

Someone mentioned a less-than-courteous (but useful) way to enforce this rule...

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If you have a hard time keeping your phone away, focus more on a non-digital project or hobby. It can be anything you find fulfilling and doesn't involve your computer screens. I've found making laser or vinyl cutter projects at the local maker space great myself.

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Find a Healthy Digital Balance

This discussion was all about fighting digital addiction. But we shouldn't forget the good things digital activity does for us too. As developers, our digital identities are a big career asset.

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It's great for networking, finding new colleagues, and even new friends.

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So remember where the line is between "healthy digital activity" and "digital addiction" lies.

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So if you need to duck out of #DevDiscuss early, this shows no one will judge and there's no reason to feel any FOMO. We're all managing our digital habits and addictions, and hopefully doing better each day 😊.

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See you all next Tuesday!

If there are any tweets from the discussion you think should have been included, post them in the comments below!

Cover Image courtesy of SafeBooru.org

Discussion (2)

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terabytetiger profile image
Tyler V. (he/him)

Two memorable tweets that weren't already on your list:

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laurieontech profile image
Laurie

Haha, apparently I had a lot to say last night. Great write up! I didn’t even see all of these.