Managing Your Digital Life

Digital communication is a constant part of our lives. The question is – are we controlling our technology or is it controlling us?  Here are some things to think about and some tips for taking control of your digital life.

How Much is Too Much?

Do you find yourself constantly checking your texts, emails or Facebook? Do you get anxious or upset when you can’t access your phone or computer? Do you get stressed when people don’t respond to your messages or posts right away? If so, you may be experiencing technology overload. If your digital life is stressing you out and preventing you from getting things done, you may need to set some boundaries:

  • Checking messages or your updates during work, class or while spending time with friends detracts from your ability to be present and participate. Limit when you check your email and social networking sites so you don’t miss out on what’s happening around you.
  • While it’s easy to text a friend or write on their wall, try picking up the phone or meeting up for a cup of coffee from time to time so you can really connect and catch up.
  • If spending time online or on your phone is affecting your ability to get sleep, try unplugging an hour before you get in bed so you can get your mind (and your eyes) prepped for sleep.

Technology and Your Relationships
Sometimes, written communication through texts, email or social networks is more convenient. But without body language, tone of voice and facial cues, it can be hard to understand what your friend is really saying or how they’re really doing. When you need to talk to a friend or connect with someone, take time to think about the best way to do it. Is it something simple that can be communicated with a text, or should you really pick up the phone or see them in person?

Technology can pose unique challenges for romantic relationships. Many people find themselves spending too much time on Facebook or Twitter checking up on their significant others. Some couples end up arguing because of misunderstandings that happen online or through texts. If technology is complicating your relationship, be proactive and talk about it – face-to-face, not online.

And sometimes the things we read or the messages we receive can be really painful. If you feel like someone is bullying or harassing you online, here are some tips for managing the situation.

Reaching Out for Help
Everyone goes through ups and downs, especially when balancing the stresses of school, work, extracurricular activities and a social life. Sometimes we need support. While online friends and contacts can be great for chatting, sharing info, and goofing off, it’s also important to identify your support network and think about the best way to communicate if you or a friend is having a hard time. It’s sometimes easier to communicate our feelings through a text or a wall post, but if we really need support, it’s better to reach out directly. If you aren’t comfortable reaching out to any friends, talk to a family member or reach out for professional support.

Likewise, if you’re concerned about a friend because of their behavior in the real world or something you’ve seen online, don’t be afraid to call or visit them. If a friend seems really distressed and isn’t receptive to your outreach, talk to someone you trust or your counseling center for advice on how to help them. Sometimes, words on a screen can’t replace a face-to-face conversation.