In the past couple of months, I have noticed a trend across categories around the importance of balance and wellbeing as it pertains to our digital selves.
With the introduction of Senator Josh Hawley’s proposed Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology (SMART) Act, which seeks to combat the addictive features of social media , it appears there is a growing focus on how to find balance in the digital world.
As a digital agency that works primarily in the health and wellness space, I believe this is an important trend to think about and monitor.
Potential Law Set in Place to Bring Balance to Social Media
If signed into law, the SMART act would make it illegal for social media companies to use features that reward repetitive or continued use. Infinite scroll, video autoplay, and badges rewarded for use would fall into this category. This law is looking to combat the addictive qualities of social media by making users choose to remain engaged versus being sucked in through these features.
While this bill is in its infancy, it is perhaps a foreshadowing of things to come in the upcoming years.
User Experience Trends are Pointing in a Similar Direction
I have seen a similar trend discussed in various User Experience articles, in which designers discuss how overloaded a user's attention has become. There is a discussion going on about breaking away from the engagement trap to more purposeful site design that is meant to inform and instill calm. The article delicately states, "The engagement pendulum has gone all the way to one side. It’s now starting to swing back."
Users are beginning to understand the potential repercussions of technology overload and are looking at how they interact with technology.
Even Google is Listening
Google has even joined the conversation by launching a wellbeing page (https://wellbeing.google/) that discusses how to find balance with today's technology.
I have a general opinion that the internet goes as Google goes, so I view this as a key indicator of where the industry is heading.
Bringing the Balance Home
As an agency focused on helping health, wellness, and lifestyle brands grow, we take our own culture of health and wellness very seriously - and that includes being mindful about time spent on and around technology. Parallel Path Co-Founder and COO Bryan Boettiger offers this anecdote about how he and his family attempt digital wellbeing in their own home:
“With my pre-teen and teen boys, we have focused less on limiting digital time and more on what the quality of that time is. For instance, we don't allow our boys to utilize social media apps. No Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc... With 19+ years in digital media experience, we feel the long term benefits of keeping childhood folly from the permanence of the internet is more important than feeling part of the crowd.
We've also noticed the boys find different means for communicating with their friends and staying in the loop. Alternatives such as actual phone calls, FaceTime, texting, and old fashioned face to face communication have kept them headed in the direction we believe is best for their growth and development."
Rapidly-evolving technologies call for ever-changing strategies around how much (or how little) we allow technology to play a role in our daily lives. But if we consider our behavior through a lens of health and wellness, we have a better chance of balance.