As we step into the Cyber Age, digital routines have come to determine our health, our social interactions, our professional success and failures, and pretty much our lives—or at least a very significant part of our lives. Yet, just like healthy practices in the offline world, digital natives have to learn cyber hygiene because the Internet will be playing a major part in our everyday existence.
Though India was introduced to the Internet way back in 1995, we are still struggling to achieve mass cyber literacy. Parents, schools and governments are working hard to ensure that India has digital citizens with an understanding of healthy cyber etiquette, although the data shows that the process is still in its early stages. Clearly, we have miles to go before we realise the dream of a Digital India.
What is meant by a digital routine?
Before going any further, we must understand what digital routine means. A routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed, so the sequence of actions followed on the Internet makes up the digital routine, or the digital habit. A healthy digital routine includes balancing the amount of time spent on devices, or using technology for personal or professional engagement, with adding value to your life and the lives of those around you.
What should be the routine?
There are many intangibles around what should be the correct digital routine, and truth be told, there is no specific method or a right way. And the experience for every individual would be different. Still, there are some factors—major and minor—that can affect anyone’s digital routine. Here are some of the major factors that can end up dictating your routine:
- Age of the user
- Occupation of the user (this helps in determining the type of usage)
- Impact of screen time on the user
Each of these can impact the routine of a person. In addition, the amount of screen time can determine the digital routine of a user. Although, the rule of thumb is that if you are asking yourself whether, ‘Am I spending too much time online?’, the answer is usually, ‘Yes’. So, when in doubt, work on decreasing that screen time.
Beyond screen time, it is also important to acknowledge the importance of our browsing habits, and the data we consume and also share. When it comes to consumption, the usual advice is to categorise the sources—for example, entertainment, information, news, social, etc.
Being aware of the source is very important because we all know the pervasive and harmful nature of misinformation and fake profiles, and the difficulty in navigating spaces in today’s digital world. When it comes to misinformation, a simple suggestion is to visit any leading fact-checking website in case of doubt—a list of credible fact-checking resources can be found on platforms like Poynter, etc. And in case you see a red flag in any social communication, it is always good to reach out to a friend or an acquaintance offline. For, most of the offers and much of the information are not just false but also too good to be true.
Here are some more essentials that can help keep track of one’s digital routine:
- Turn it off: Unless someone is a doctor or a police officer, they learn to turn off their phones at night. It’s okay! If one is an Android user, it also ensures that the phone performs better. As proven in many scientific studies, disconnecting for a few hours is great for one’s mental health.
- Avoid using the phone as an alarm: This leads to one engaging with their device first thing in the morning—give it a few hours before you reacquaint yourself with your device. Spend some time with yourself, think about your day, and then engage with the cyber world.
- #TMI: Too much sharing of information is not recommended. And one must be extremely judicious with the information they share. Most cybercrimes are easily committed because we are too eager to share our private details with the world.
- Update the device: The majority of updates help in increasing the security of our devices. Sadly, we do not update them regularly. It is imperative to frequently update one’s software on the phone and computer—this decreases the risks of getting hacked, and reduces your vulnerability to cyber attacks.
- Stay up to date with tech: The tech world is ever changing, and even if one has little interest in doing so, it’s good to check in every now and then to see what’s different, and how we can improve and safeguard our digital habits. Think of it like a routine health check-up!
The list of what we should and should not do online, is a long one. But the aim must always be to identify individual needs and build positive online habits from the beginning. Because, it takes time to create a routine, which one then must constantly renew alongside the evolution of technology.
(The author is Mr. Amitabh Kumar, Co-founder and CEO at Wranga and the views expressed in this article are his own)