What is Digital Wellbeing? A List of Definitions

What exactly is “digital wellbeing?” Normally, it’s a state of personal wellbeing experienced through the healthy use of digital technology

But ask 29 experts and you get 29 different answers.

So here they are, 29 different ways to define digital wellbeing (please ping me if you have/find any more).

(Of course, digital wellbeing is also a Google program, an Android app, a TikTok feature, a BBC initiative), and the name of this site).

Digital wellbeing is…

  1. “The enhancement and improvement of human well-being, in the intermediate and long term, through the use of digital media” (UNESCO)
  2. A state where subjective well-being is maintained in an environment characterized by digital communication overabundance. Within a condition of digital well-being, individuals are able to channel digital media usage towards a sense of comfort, safety, satisfaction and fulfilment (Gui, Fasoli and Carridore)
  3. “Digital wellbeing considers the impact of technologies and digital services on people’s mental, physical and emotional health” (JISC)
  4. “Digital Wellbeing is about crafting and maintaining a healthy relationship with technology. It’s about how technology serves us and moves us towards our goals, rather than distracting us, interrupting us or getting in the way. Being in control of technology enables us to use its full potential and gain all the benefits of it”. (Google)
  5. “The capacity to look after personal health, safety, relationships and work-life balance in digital settings“;
    • “to use digital tools in pursuit of personal goals (e.g. health and fitness) and to participate in social and community activities; to act safely and responsibly in digital environments; to negotiate and resolve conflict; to manage digital workload, overload and distraction; to act with concern for the human and natural environment when using digital tools. An understanding of the benefits and risks of digital participation in relation to health and wellbeing outcomes” (JISC previous definition – one of six digital capabilities and definition used in the FutureLearn digital wellbeing course from the University of York – JISC = Joint Information Systems Committee, the UK not-for-profit EdTech organisation)
  6. “An umbrella term for a state of individual wellbeing that is supported by digital technologies” (Sarah Aragon Bartsch)
  7. “The extent to which the user feels their digital device use is well-aligned with their personal, valued, long-term goals” (Ulrik Lyngs)
  8. “The impact of digital technologies on what it means to live a life that is good for a human being in an information society” (Christopher Burr, Mariarosaria Taddeo & Luciano Floridi)
  9. “Using technology in a positive way that supports physical and mental health” (Qustodio)
  10. Find[ing] a balance with technology, that feels right for you
    • “As technology becomes more and more integral to everything we do, it can sometimes distract us from the things that matter most to us. We believe technology should improve life, not distract from it. We’re committed to giving everyone the tools they need to develop their own sense of digital wellbeing. So that life, not the technology in it, stays front and center” (Google)
  11. The term ‘digital well-being industry’ is used to refer to the growing, commercial availability of software (e.g. mobile apps), hardware (e.g. smartwatches), and services (e.g. online chatbots) that seek to promote the self-governance of mental health and well-being (Christopher Burr, Jessica Morley, Mariarosaria Taddeo and Luciano Floridi)
  12. “The ability to live holistically healthy lives considering all activities that involve the use of digital technologies; for example, the healthy use of social media, preventing cyberbullying and other abusive behaviour”. (HundrED)
  13. “A subjective individual experience of optimal balance between the benefits and drawbacks obtained from mobile connectivity. This experiential state is comprised of affective and cognitive appraisals of the integration of digital connectivity into ordinary life. People achieve digital wellbeing when experiencing maximal controlled pleasure and functional support, together with minimal loss of control and functional impairment” (Mariek M. P. Vanden Abeele)
  14. “A term used by health professionals, researchers and device manufacturers to describe the concept that when humans interact with technology, the experience should support mental and/or physical health in a measurable way. The goal of improving digital wellbeing is to design technology in such a way that it promotes healthy use and proactively assists the user to maintain a healthy lifestyle” (whatis.com).
  15. “Digital wellbeing spans the ways information technology – including communications and sensors – can help people live long and healthy lives” (University of Portsmouth)
  16. “Concerned with the impact of technology on the extent to which we do and can lives that are good for us” (Michael Klenk)
  17. Looking after personal health, safety, relationships and work-life balance in digital settings” (Fiona Chambers et al in Design Thinking for Digital Well-being)
  18. “The use of social technologies in a manner that contributes positively to overall mental and physical health, and self-perceived sense of wellbeing” (Jeremy Birnholtz et al)
  19. An awareness of how being online can make us feel and looking after ourselves and others when online. This can include recognising the impact being online can have on our emotions, mental wellbeing and even on our physical health and knowing what to do if something goes wrong” (Childnet and UK Safer Internet Centre).
  20. The conceptualization, design, and development of digital experiences with the main focus of fostering wellbeing. That is, technologies that aim to reduce their negative impact and design them to make humans thrive through a positive digital experience” (Claudia Daudén Roquet and Corina Sas).
  21. “Means that individuals, families, and organizations are capable of using digital technologies to help them to work productively, facilitate social relationship, and sustain healthy lives in a balanced way without experiencing negative side effects of digital technologies such as distraction, dependence, and health/safety/privacy threats” (Uichin Lee and Jaejeung Kim)
  22. A subset of wellbeing insofar as it is influenced by digital technologies and human-computer interaction” (Katja Rogers)
  23. “The mindful balance between digital connectivity and digital unplugging” (Corina Sas)
  24. Feeling comfortable when using specific technology” (Matthias Schmidmaier)
  25. “The state of being content and comfortable with the role that technology occupies in an individual’s life” (Ashley Marie Walker and Michael A. DeVito)
  26. “A positive feeling associated with the use of technology, striven by maintaining a balance between our ‘real’ and ‘online’ lives” (Kelly Widdicks, Oliver Bates, Mike Hazas and Adrian Friday)
  27. “Digital wellbeing is a movement concerned with controlling the amount of time we spend in front of mobile devices, the web, and technology in general” (Android Authority)
  28. “Digital wellbeing is an attempt [by Google] to help people get a better relationship with the technology in their lives by focusing on four areas: Understanding habits, focus on what matters, help switching off, and help families find the right balance with technology (Daniel Svensson).
  29. Ensuring that digital technologies do not impact negatively on safety, relationships or mental and physical health (OpenLearn)

Written by
Dr Paul Marsden
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Digital wellbeing covers the latest scientific research on the impact of digital technology on human wellbeing. Curated by psychologist Dr. Paul Marsden (@marsattacks). Sponsored by WPP agency SYZYGY.