Take Control of Your Digital Nutrition

Take Control of Your Digital Nutrition

Spring has sprung, the flowers are (eventually) blooming, and it’s the perfect time for some spring cleaning. While you work to clean out your garage, basement, and home after a chilly winter, it’s also a great time to check on your digital mess and be sure that you are being smart online.

The internet is amazing, and so are social media sites, but it is important that we take care of our online presence. Just because we can’t see our digital mess doesn’t mean it’s not there. So, it’s a good idea every now and again to check-in on our “digital nutrition,” as Jocelyn Brewer calls it. Just as a balanced diet is important to our health, the same is true for our digital consumption. As Brewer explains:

 “Monitoring screen time is akin to digital calorie counting: It’s just one way to consider your dietary needs. In the world of nutrition, these needs vary according to a range of factors, such as your age, metabolism, and physical activities. But it’s not just raw calories we consider: We also take into account the nutrient content of food, such as the fats, sugars, and additives. Our body digests 400 calories from a slice of pepperoni pizza very differently to 400 calories’ worth of carrot sticks; similarly, an hour of mindlessly scrolling through Instagram affects you differently compared to an hour of language-learning on Duolingo.”

So, how can you make sure that your digital consumption isn’t negatively impacting your life? Here's a quick overview on how to give yourself a digital health check-up.

First of all, don’t do anything drastic. Just as juice cleanses and yo-yo diets don’t work, the same goes for technology cleanses. If you are trying to cut back on screen time, don’t go off into the woods, rip out your router, or switch to burner phones. Start by just being mindful of how you are using technology, and if you feel you are using it too much, cut back or schedule your screen time to more closely monitor your digital calories.

As with all diets, it’s not just about the total calories in, but also the quality of those calories. Technology will always be a part of our lives, but as it becomes more prevalent, especially in the lives of future generations, it is up to us to make sure that we have a healthy, positive, and balanced relationship with technology and prevent overuse.

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These days, just about everyone has a digital mess. Here are three quick and easy ways to take care of that mess.

1)      Do an online security checkup and review your privacy settings. You may want to restrict your Instagram account to private to make sure only your friends and family can see your photos. You can do the same with Facebook and other online services.  You can also make sure to check what information is being collected and how it is being used.

2)      Clean up the apps that you have allowed access to your Facebook account. If you want to review which apps you have given access to Facebook, take a look at this quick guide. You can then modify their permissions or delete the ones you want to remove. I had 87 and cut down to just 10!

3)      Get a password manager. You need to make sure that all of your passwords are different. Luckily, password managers like LastPass make it easy to keep track of all your passwords and will even generate secure random passwords for you. That’s a real win, win, win scenario.

There are also a number of great online resources for helping build healthy online habits such as Digital Nutrition, Moms with Apps, and Common Sense Media. All of these sites help to make sure that the services we use are in our and our families’ best interests.

Digital technology is great, but it’s so easy to let it get out of control. It’s helpful every now and again to do a check-in of our digital nutrition and make sure we are getting the most out of our online time.

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