Managing your digital wellbeing

This resource provides some practical tips for managing your engagement with online platforms.

How can I tell if my online engagement is impacting my wellbeing?

Deciding whether your online and offline time is imbalanced is a personal decision. There is no set measure of how much time you should spend online or offline. Stay in tune with how you're feeling and adjust your engagement levels if you need to.

Watch this video for some ideas on how to avoid those pesky distractions.

Strategies to help you find balance

Measure your engagement

If you're not sure how much time you spend online, consider using a tool or application that tracks where you spend your time.

  • Rescue Time is a downloadable extension for your browser that tracks which websites you visit, and uses the data to generate analytics that demonstrate where you're spending your time.
  • For iOS devices, you can use Screen Time, which tracks how much time you spend using your device and which apps you use the most.
  • For Android devices, your can download Quality Time, which monitors and generates visual reports on which apps you use and allows you to set usage limits for apps.

Set limits

The next step after you've measured your engagement is to set limits. There is no magic number - it is up to you to decide how much, if at all, the online world is interrupting your daily life.

Some apps, like Quality Time, have features that allow you to set usage limits for apps or websites that tend to distract you.

Download a restriction app

It's tempting to reassure yourself by saying "I just won't look at other websites" or "I'll just switch off my phone" when you start worrying about your engagement with online tools and platforms. But sometimes exercising self-control isn't that easy. There are quite a few applications that can help you exercise self-control. Some examples include:

  • Forest - incentivise yourself to stay focused by growing virtual trees. A tree will grow every hour you don't switch out of the app into another on on your device. Available for Apple and Android devices, and as a browser extension for Firefox. 
  • SelfControl - restrict your access to websites that distract you. Available to download on Mac or iOS devices.
  • Cold Turkey - block specific webpages, limit Internet access or even lock yourself out of your computer for a period of time. Available for Mac and Window computers.

Turn off notifications

It might be difficult to switch off your device, but you can limit how much it contacts you. Turn off notifications for social media applications, unlink your email from your device and set it on Do Not Disturb or airplane mode when you need some time away to focus or recharge.

Learn how to turn off iPhone notification in iOS 11.

Why manage your engagement with online platforms?

Online tools and services can enhance our lives; we can communicate more easily, organise our time more effectively and learn new things with a click of a button. However, constant notifications, exposure to unpleasant behaviour and temptation to procrastinate may negatively impact your wellbeing.

The level of digital engagement varies from person to person and it is up the individual to decide what is suitable for them.

Keep yourself safe online

And finally, remember, it is important to keep yourself safe online.

To see whether a website is safe to visit, you can check for security info about the site. Check to the left of the web address for the security status:

If you see a lock icon next to a website's address it means the traffic to and from the website is encrypted. It is also verified, which means the company running the site has a certificate proving they own it. Selecting the lock icon, you can see more information about the site, such as who owns it and who verified it.

If you don't see a lock icon, your connection isn't private and any traffic could be intercepted. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have developed a number of free tools for your browser, to help protect you while you're online, including:

For more information on how to stay safe and protect yourself online, visit the UOW CyberSafety site.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Online abuse and harassment

Cyber abuse or online harm is when someone sends harmful communications that are menacing, harassing or offensive. It can include posts, comments, emails, messages, memes, livestreams, images and videos.
If you have experienced or witnessed online abuse we encourage you to reach out to seek support or make a report through the Safe and Respectful Communities (SARC) team.

Useful information can also be found in the eSafety Commission's student toolkit which is designed to help students experiencing online abuse.