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Digital Well-being

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At Virginia Tech, we want our students to experience digital flourishing. Digital well-being occurs on a spectrum and flourishing is when we use our devices in a way that maximizes the positives and minimizes the negatives. In other words, we are benefiting from all the great things that technology has to offer. Devices supplement and add to our lives but do not take away from us reaching our full potential.

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The Digital Wellness Institute has developed a tool to help people understand the 8 dimensions of digital well-being and assess a person's individual device use strengths and areas of improvement.

In the Spring of 2023, Virginia Tech was named the First Digitally Well University. Hokie Wellness strives to help students' digital flourishing in all aspects of their lives while at Virginia Tech – in the classroom, around campus, and in the residence halls.

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  • Discover personal areas of digital flourishing and challenges.

Weekly Well-being Challenges

Seek out fun beyond a screen!

Joining an organization and attending events can increase your feelings of belonging at Virginia Tech and we have so much to choose from! Visit GobblerConnect to find your fit.

More Questions?

Feel free to visit the Student Engagement and Campus Life Office in Squires Student Center, Rooms 225 and 325.

Off-screen play and fun is just as essential as work and productivity - we need both!

Play can help us feel connected and decrease our stress levels.

Our campus offers many free or cheap opportunities to play!

If you’ve ever found yourself in class trying to focus on the slides at hand and then giving in to the temptation of anything else the internet has to offer, you are not alone.

Sometimes we need to go old school and get back to pen and paper to resist going off topic.

Being off topic on our laptops can impact your learning and anyone else’s who can see an off topic laptop. 

Here are some resources to help you learn about and experience more focus!

Does fun seem frivolous or like something you have to earn?

Turns out we need it! Fun can help us manage stress, prevent burnout, and increase our positive brain chemicals.

Follow these steps to get started.

Figure out what situations create fun for you:

  • Put fun on your calendar - don’t just wait for it, plan it!
  • Consider replacing scrolling time with fun time.

Check out why we all need to have more fun:

It’s common to scroll to avoid awkward moments and uncomfortable feelings but it’s more helpful to write it out!

It doesn’t have to be a whole long thing, something quick can be helpful, think just 5 minutes! Journaling can decrease stress, help to level out emotions, and increase your sense of gratitude and optimism.

Don’t know how to get started? Try these two things:

Did you know just having your phone present decreases the quality of a conversation?

It sounds so simple - want to have more meaningful conversations - put your phone in your bag or in another room when possible. Try it and see how it goes!

You may see phone boxes on tables in various places on campus. Use them.

  • Check out the conversation cards inside.
  • Put your phones away.
  • Connect!

If you are into research, Virginia Tech professor, Dr. Shalini Misra invented the famous iphone effect study - give it a read: The iPhone Effect: The Quality of In-Person Social Interactions in the Presence of Mobile Devices.

Research demonstrates that practicing gratitude decreases feelings of stress and anxiety. Practicing self-appreciation, like writing down your own great qualities; physical, emotional, intellectual, social, etc. is a helpful practice that can help reverse the negative impacts of social media.

When we scroll and look at all of the images of others’ highlight reels, we go into comparison mode which can harm our mental health. The next time you find yourself scrolling and comparing, flip the script! Try looking through your own photos and highlight reels to bring back those positive memories and experiences.

Looking for more tools to remind yourself how great you are?

Learn about and try daily affirmations in this article about 25 Positive Daily Affirmations to Recite for Your Mental Health.

Starting our day off checking emails, notifications, socials, can immediately make us feel stressed, overwhelmed, and already behind in our day.

Or sometimes we become behind because sitting in our bed scrolling in the moment feels more relaxing. Before we know it, our phones have hijacked the first hour of our day feeding us cute puppy videos.

Either way, checking our phones first thing can make us stressed.

Change up your morning routine by trying out some of these ideas:

  • Get a real alarm clock so you don’t immediately wake up with your phone in hand.
  • If getting a real alarm clock just isn’t going to happen, put a motivational reminder to “be phone-free for the first 30” on your home/lock screen.
  • Write a list of 5 other things you can do to get your morning started without your phone - here are some ideas to get you started:
    • Shower.
    • Get dressed.
    • Have a glass of water, juice, coffee, tea (insert beverage here)/eat breakfast.
    • Read a real book/review class content.
    • Set your day up on a positive note - write a top 3 goal list for the day or 3 gratitudes practice.

It’s common to reach for our phones to distract ourselves when we are stressed or in awkward situations.

Using techniques such as mindfulness help us more effectively understand and deal with our emotions which boosts mental health in the long run. One of the many great things our phones can be used for is apps that teach us a skill. There are so many stressful moments in college, mindfulness can be used to relax the mind and body and in turn, reduce stress.

Here are some practices to get you started the next time you are stressed:

Just like starting the day with our phones can make us stressed, ending our day on our phones can do the same.

The blue light from technology delays the release of our sleepy hormone, melatonin, and consuming content keeps our brains excited - both prevent us from getting the quality and quantity of sleep college students need. Attempting a device-free bedtime can feel daunting but the rewards of better sleep can be life changing.

To learn more about the benefits of a device-free bedroom, read or listen to the Sleep Foundation’s content on Technology in the bedroom.

Our campus has so much great food to choose from.

Explore Hokie Dining's daily menus. Enjoying new flavors with a friend (and without a phone) will increase your taste experience! Eating while scrolling distracts us from fully enjoying our food and noticing when we are full.

By yourself?

Learn about how to go through a mindful eating experience. The Headspace app offers some great info and resources on how and why to practice mindful eating.

Turning notifications off, or putting phones on do not disturb or focus mode, gives us a chance to go to our device when we want to, not just because it is interrupting us!

If you haven’t tried focus modes yet, they are super easy to set up (just google it) and personalize. You can customize focus modes for any situation where you don’t want to be disturbed; whether it’s a workout, gaming session, class, or any other situation where you don’t want to share your attention with your phone.

Focus modes allow you to create exceptions to the rules and specify what apps and what people are still allowed to notify you in each situation so you don’t have to worry about missing out.

While our device offers us SO MUCH, we sometimes forget its original purpose, connection.

They were phones first and now a phone call is one of the least used functions of our constant companion!

A real phone call has a lot of benefits and doesn’t have to be long. Do real phone conversations sound scary? Yep, we are all out of practice, but we can do it! Read this New York Times article on The Secret Power of the 8-Minute Phone Call.

If you’ve been inspired by the weekly challenges and want to learn more about using technology for good, give the podcast Your Undivided Attention a listen.

The next time you find yourself scrolling mindlessly (and feeling guilty about it) organize your phone instead!

We all have those apps that we have no use for anymore and sometimes our apps can feel like weeds cluttering our digital life.

Want to take digital de-cluttering to the next level? Sign up for a free digital house cleaning party with JOMO’s Christina Crook.

Other fun resources on this site include:

  • Digital house cleaning guide.
  • JOMO manifesto to inspire you to live mindfully with your phone.
  • Phone Wallpapers to keep digital well-being on your mind.

If you find yourself looking for more in person connection, fun, and experiences, deleting social media or games may be a great challenge for you.

You may now be thinking, what would I do instead or how will I be social without my social media?

The Center for Humane Technology has some great questions to reflect on:

  • What do you wish you had more time for in your day-to-day life?
  • What big goals are you working toward that you would like to have more time and energy for?
  • What are some reasons that you use social media?
  • What are some unwanted impacts that social media has on your life?
  • Are there behaviors and/or relationships you would like to improve?

Read more from this content on How do I shift my use of social media for good?

Hokies know we have one of the most beautiful campuses in the Nation!

Putting your phone away for the walk across campus can give us so many benefits:

  • It gives our brain a break - device-free breaks are more restorative than breaks on a screen.
  • It can inspire new thoughts or creativity. Walking without technology gives our minds a moment to wander - you never know what new idea you will come up with!
  • It can give you a chance to have a conversation with someone.

Not ready to go completely device-fee on your treks across campus?

  • Consider putting on music or a podcast.
  • Put your phone in your backpack.
  • Look around and enjoy.

Need more ideas? Check out the fall 2023 Weekly Digital Well-being Challenges.

College life is meant to be lived. Virginia Tech wants students to discover and explore what makes them excited and ultimately, feel like campus is their home. ExperienceVT helps students do just that. Check out all that we have to offer, and start creating your memories today!

Events and Opportunities

For more information on digital well-being, please contact Laurie Fritsch.