5 ways to form healthy online habits

Sometimes hours pass and we’re still holding our iPads, eyes glued to the screen. Sounds familiar?

By Delna Mistry Anand

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Published: Thu 26 May 2022, 7:47 PM

By the time you read this, it will be the judgement day for what has become, arguably the most watched trial of the century; the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation case which millions have become emotionally invested in. With trending hashtags like #JusticeForJohnny and the lesser popular #IStandWithAmber, online discussions and debates have been rife over the past months. Netizens have claimed they haven’t been able to put their phones down, constantly checking for updates, almost obsessively.

That’s what social media does to us; something happening somewhere piques our attention and down the rabbit hole we go. Sure, there’s always a great reason — ‘It’s the weekend’, ‘It was such an interesting series I couldn’t stop’ or in the above case, ‘I want to know who the real victim is’. Sometimes hours pass and we’re still holding our iPads, eyes glued to the screen. Sounds familiar?

In her book Dopamine Nation, author Anna Lembke talks about the huge explosion in the numbers of people struggling with minor addictions, emphasising that since the turn of the millennium, behavioural (as opposed to substance) addictions have soared. Every spare second is an opportunity to be stimulated, whether by scrolling through social media, Netflix, YouTube, checking WhatsApp, emails and even e-shopping. It’s called a digital dopamine rush.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve forgotten how to be alone with our thoughts. We’re constantly “interrupting ourselves”, as Lembke puts it, for a quick digital hit; never feeling alone if we have our phone. Being online can present lots of great opportunities to connect, learn and share what’s important to you, but take a moment to stop and assess your online habits and behaviour.

1) Choose kindness: It’s very easy to comment, judge or attack when you’re anonymous. Be kind with your judgements and comments on social media. If you don’t have anything nice or useful to say, refrain the keyboard attacks.

2) One photo does not tell the whole story: Again, its easy to fall into the trap of imagining greener pastures on the other side. People usually put their best foot forward, and they filter their best moments for social media. Unfollow those who you don’t feel good about following. Go declutter your list this weekend and feel light!

3) Trigger alerts: Studies suggest that most individuals have stronger psychophysiological reactions to negative news when compared to positive news. It’s called a ‘negativity bias’. It is the reason why we stop to read clickbaits that could potentially trigger us. Resist the urge. Cut away from such news if it does not concern you, and go on to read something uplifting (even better if you could log off and do something else).

4) Beware of doomscrolling: Hours and hours of endless scrolling, consuming an unhealthy and unnecessary amount of content. Doomscrolling or doom-surfing can be a harmful habit, and detrimental to your mental and physical wellbeing.

5) Other important ‘good habits’: Take regular digital detoxes, switch off your phone at least half an hour prior to bed time and switch on half an hour after waking up, delete unnecessary apps, clean up your folders, try remembering phone numbers of important people, back up your photos, and enjoy your life.


Connect with Delna Mistry Anand across social media @DelnaAnand

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