I have been involved in digital technology education since 1998. I originally started teaching in adult education centres in the UK. Just as the drive to get everyone involved in technology was taking off. Later, I moved to more advanced courses teaching diplomas and degrees. 

The opportunity to move to Australia allowed me work in TAFE’s and high schools teaching both computing and Humanities.

During those years I have seen some incredibly positive digital technology developments introduced to the classroom. But, as with every upside there is also a downside and the increased use of technology has been blamed for some pretty nasty mental health issues all linked to something called ‘internet addiction’.

Strangely enough the term internet addiction is not a new term and has been around since the 1990’s. It was first used by Dr. Kimberley Young. Despite the term being around for over 20 years, many people still have little understanding of what digital addiction is, what the symptoms are, how it impacts on a persons life or those around them.

We are currently moving through the information age, which has seen a massive growth in information being created and stored. That growth has continued as we shift from information age profile to an experience based profile. So instead of writing up your profile and saving with images you now record it and show it. This has prompted the drive for apps like Snapchat, Instagram and TicTok.

The drive for information has lead to many of us being continuously online for hours a day. Some people even sleep with their phone to ensure they don’t miss anything. We are becoming more and more technology dependant and this can lead to internet addiction issues.

At the same time there have been some incredibly positive experiences that have happened during the pandemic. Grandparents unable to travel have used apps like messenger or skype to connect with families across the world. Research has also shown the use of the internet can actually help prevent cognitive decline in older people.

Over the years I have noted changes in classroom behaviours as well as my own. Students are far more easily distracted than they used to be. Mental health issues in schools continue to rise. I have noticed that I am also less attenuative. Years ago I could pick up book and read for hours, but I cant do that today without feeling the desire to move or do something to break that concentration. I am certainly not in the digital native age category but if technology is impacting on my ability to concentrate you can be sure the impact on some of the younger generation can be quite profound.

About 5 years ago I started to study how technology impacts on human behaviour and discovered so many traits of internet addiction appear, not just in students but also in my behaviours. Since then I have continued to research internet addiction issues and possible solutions. I have studied Hypnosis, gaining certification in 2017. I have also studied mindfulness and have worked in High School to implement this into the classroom setting.

Mental health of young people continues to rise. Some countries have become so concerned about the impact excessive internet use can have on our mental health they have registered digital addiction as a mental illness. One of the first countries to do this was China.

Breaking the hold digital devices have on lives is will require change and change is never easy. Should schools change teaching practice to coup with poor attention? Should teachers receive training on how to deal with internet addiction in the class?  Should families receive more support and education to help keep children’s internet use in check?  Should students and parents receive education  on technology dependant issues? 

Those are just some of the issues I have been researching. Technology will not go away and banning it will not help. We need change but I believe this has to come through education and understanding.

Change will not happen quickly but with a little perseverance and knowledge we can make small changes to our lives one step at a time to gradually lessen the impact of digital technology.

That is essentially what Digital Wellness Hub is all about, learning to create a little digital free breathing space in your life.

Take a little digital breather…. You’ll enjoy it!


Regular contributor to www.selfgrowth.com.

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