On May 14th 2019, the #DevDiscuss community gathered once more. The topic? Digital health and addiction!

Over one hour we shared stories of how we dealt with digital addiction ourselves, strategies we used, and striking a healthy balance online. A lot of great info was shared, so much so it's hard to summarize into a single article.

Challenge accepted.

If you couldn't take part in the discussion and still want to see what was written, please read on!

Recognizing Digital Addiction

The first step of addressing any problem is defining it. As developers, we tend to be more familiar with digital addiction than many, buy just as vulnerable.

Jacque Schrag profile image
Jacque Schrag
@jnschrag
twitter logo
@molly_struve @_jessicode I realized I hit the point of being digitally addicted when leaving my phone behind felt like I was missing a limb. I could feel myself wanting to check stuff every few minutes. That feeling goes away, but it's scary how normal it feels. #DevDiscuss
01:45 AM - 15 May 2019
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This can be due to our design knowledge, higher exposure to different tech, or our own job demands.

Laurie profile image
Laurie
@laurieontech
twitter logo
@jmdembe @kylegalbraith The speed of the tech industry is both a blessing and a curse. Because we can theoretically keep up with everything via the internet the expectation is that we should and are doing so. That’s not particularly healthy. #devdiscuss
01:24 AM - 15 May 2019
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Or, ironically enough, our participation in Twitter chats 🙃.

Laurie profile image
Laurie
@laurieontech
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We should all acknowledge the irony of talking about digital addiction from our phones, after work, on a social media platform. #DevDiscuss
01:33 AM - 15 May 2019
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This exposes a wider problem of digital addiction is an occupational hazard for developers, and we should take it seriously.

Jessica Dembe 👩🏾‍💻 profile image
Jessica Dembe 👩🏾‍💻
@jmdembe
twitter logo
This digital life thing is a double edge sword. One the one hand, being digitally engaged pays better than my first two jobs out of college. On the other hand, there is a heavy price to pay if I log off or disengage from tech/digital life. #DevDiscuss
01:16 AM - 15 May 2019
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Even if it's just the risk of staying online too much after said Twitter chats.

Max Antonucci profile image
Max Antonucci
@maxwell_dev
twitter logo
@molly_struve You have more success than me, there have been many nights after #DevDiscuss I got caught up watching Impractical Jokers videos for an hour 😂😭
01:49 AM - 15 May 2019
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To be fair, Impractical Jokers videos are too hilarious to pass up, even at 11 pm!

Limit Notifications

Arguable the simplest, and most effective, way to fight digital addiction is turning off notifications. Most distracting are the ones for email and social media. Those who turned them off rarely regret it.

Molly Struve profile image
Molly Struve
@molly_struve
twitter logo
I recently turned off the pop up email notifications on my phone and I am picking it up a lot less now! Best decision ever! #DevDiscuss
01:06 AM - 15 May 2019
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Branden 🌯 profile image
Branden 🌯
@brandenkenn
twitter logo
Turning off push notifications for socials has been one of the best decisions I’ve made recently #DevDiscuss
01:14 AM - 15 May 2019
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Second, avoid automatic notifications or subscriptions whenever possible. Anything worth getting notified about is worth manually turning notifications on (and off).

Max Antonucci profile image
Max Antonucci
@maxwell_dev
twitter logo
One idea is only get notified on ones you hit the subscribe button for. My rule of thumb is any automatic followings or subscriptions are a bad move. #DevDiscuss twitter.com/elizschafer/st…
01:34 AM - 15 May 2019
Elizabeth Schafer @elizschafer
Does anyone have any suggestions on how to manage Github notifications? I've started filtering them in email, but it's still too much to process. What I want is some kind of dashboard where I can see everything important at a glance. #DevDiscuss
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This all falls under the "pull, don't push" rule of thumb. By not having information shoved in your face, you only look for (or "pull") the info you need.

For the notifications you keep, they should all be silenced when powering down and sleeping. Whatever it is can wait until morning.

Kara Luton profile image
Kara Luton
@karaluton
twitter logo
@ThePracticalDev I also automatically have do not disturb set to come on my phone about an hour before I go to sleep and stay on until an hour after I wake up. It’s crazy how much this has helped me and it’s something so simple #DevDiscuss
01:15 AM - 15 May 2019
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You can even disable all Internet access at night to remove any possible distractions.

Max Antonucci profile image
Max Antonucci
@maxwell_dev
twitter logo
Similar rule here. I also have some @freedom_app rules that phase out distracting sites around 8pm, and an hour later cuts off all Internet access. #DevDiscuss twitter.com/karaluton/stat…
01:16 AM - 15 May 2019
Kara Luton @karaluton
@ThePracticalDev I also automatically have do not disturb set to come on my phone about an hour before I go to sleep and stay on until an hour after I wake up. It’s crazy how much this has helped me and it’s something so simple #DevDiscuss
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Manage Your Media Diet

People also touched on the media they consume each day. It was usually Twitter content, but this can apply to media like news articles too.

The best tip seems obvious but is easy to forget and can be destructive: avoid outrage-fueling content.

Andy George profile image
Andy George
@realandygeorge
twitter logo
"What do you do for your digital health?"

About a year ago I made a conscious decision to leave 'political' twitter and try to follow only those in tech/infosec, especially those who exude positivity. It has made my twitter experience FAR more healthy and enjoyable.

#DevDiscuss twitter.com/ThePracticalDe…
01:22 AM - 15 May 2019
DEV Community 👩‍💻👨‍💻 @ThePracticalDev
Welcome to #DevDiscuss! Tonight's topic is: Digital health/addiction Let's start with some questions: - What do you do for your digital health? - What elements of digital health/addiction are the responsibility of developers? - What are your concerns about digital addiction? https://t.co/rHtWU0H9GO
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Hayley Denbraver profile image
Hayley Denbraver
@hayleydenb
twitter logo
Q1: Don't "hate" follow things. I used to follow some accounts that would consistently make me upset/outraged. I don't want to be in an echo chamber, but nothing good was coming from following these people. #devdiscuss twitter.com/ThePracticalDe…
01:11 AM - 15 May 2019
DEV Community 👩‍💻👨‍💻 @ThePracticalDev
Welcome to #DevDiscuss! Tonight's topic is: Digital health/addiction Let's start with some questions: - What do you do for your digital health? - What elements of digital health/addiction are the responsibility of developers? - What are your concerns about digital addiction? https://t.co/rHtWU0H9GO
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(Yes, this includes outrage politics).

James Turner profile image
James Turner
@mrturnerj
twitter logo
@RealAndyGeorge I nearly responded to political tweets about a certain election in a certain country of mine - so glad I didn't!

One of my big motivators for using Twitter was following other developers and people in tech, learning things. I want to keep viewing Twitter that way.
#DevDiscuss
01:26 AM - 15 May 2019
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But as one wise tweeter pointed out the next day, there are strategic times to engage with trolls. Pick your battles wisely.

Lindsey Kopacz 🐞 profile image
Lindsey Kopacz 🐞
@littlekope
twitter logo
@deSolidState @laurieontech We aren't feeding the troll, buddy.

We are collectively making a point that this industry is broken. He's not that unusual. We are making a point that we have unity.

Most trolls we don't "feed," this is strategic.
13:48 PM - 15 May 2019
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One way to control your media diet is curating digital content into a single, third-party platform. Platforms like Twitter are designed to suck you in. Pulling tweets onto a platform without the addictive design, like RSS readers, lets you have your cake and eat it too.

Max Antonucci profile image
Max Antonucci
@maxwell_dev
twitter logo
My biggest move for digital health is controlling sources for my digital media diet. I try to only get articles, tweets, and newsletters from as few sources as possible. Those sources should be controlled to avoid extra content leaking in. @feedbin is great for this! #DevDiscuss twitter.com/ThePracticalDe…
01:04 AM - 15 May 2019
DEV Community 👩‍💻👨‍💻 @ThePracticalDev
Welcome to #DevDiscuss! Tonight's topic is: Digital health/addiction Let's start with some questions: - What do you do for your digital health? - What elements of digital health/addiction are the responsibility of developers? - What are your concerns about digital addiction? https://t.co/rHtWU0H9GO
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Build Healthy Digital Habits

We can build better overall habits that discourage digital addiction too. One that saves the most time: don't rush to answer every email.

Molly Struve profile image
Molly Struve
@molly_struve
twitter logo
@Maxwell_Dev It was actually our #DevDiscuss last week that made me realize, people dont expect emails to be answered right away so I shouldnt worry about reading them immediately, it was so freeing
01:13 AM - 15 May 2019
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In fact, don't rush to the phone at all in the morning. I keep it in another room while it charges overnight. This removes any risk of checking it in bed and keeping my brain awake.

Molly Struve profile image
Molly Struve
@molly_struve
twitter logo
@gypsydave5 💯 Thats why I like physically leaving my phone at home when I run or downstairs when I get ready. If its not there, there is not temptation. It can be a relief sometimes #DevDiscuss
01:57 AM - 15 May 2019
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I encourage any habits for getting more sleep overall, which improve every other facet of our lives.

dracarys profile image
dracarys
@janeosaka
twitter logo
Not sleeping != being able to find solutions to issues you’re stuck on

SLEEP 👏🏼 TO 👏🏼 GO 👏🏼 FURTHER 👏🏼 #DevDiscuss twitter.com/thepracticalde…
01:56 AM - 15 May 2019
DEV Community 👩‍💻👨‍💻 @ThePracticalDev
Welcome to #DevDiscuss! Tonight's topic is: Digital health/addiction Let's start with some questions: - What do you do for your digital health? - What elements of digital health/addiction are the responsibility of developers? - What are your concerns about digital addiction? https://t.co/rHtWU0H9GO
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One major downside of digital addiction is damaging potential habits for learning new things.

Jacque Schrag profile image
Jacque Schrag
@jnschrag
twitter logo
@laurieontech If I had spent as much time actually doing or learning new things as opposed to reading about doing them/others doing them, I'd be a much better developer. #DevDiscuss
01:21 AM - 15 May 2019
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A useful habit to beat this (or a counter-habit) is making a "to learn" list outside of social media. This helps shift us away from seeing social media as our primary source of information. If something on Twitter jumps out at you, save it somewhere else and avoid getting sucked in.

Lastly, schedule extra blocks of time to not use your phone at all.

Dashiell Bark-Huss profile image
Dashiell Bark-Huss
@dashbarkhuss
twitter logo
@ThePracticalDev We have scheduled unplug time after dinner everyday but I really want to switch to having only scheduled plug time.
01:03 AM - 15 May 2019
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Someone mentioned a less-than-courteous (but useful) way to enforce this rule...

Molly Struve profile image
Molly Struve
@molly_struve
twitter logo
@kylegalbraith @DashBarkHuss @ThePracticalDev I LOVE asking someone a question right when I can see they are in the middle of something on their phone, makes them squirm a little and usually you can get them to put it down that way. Not tactful but effective #DevDiscuss
01:37 AM - 15 May 2019
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If you have a hard time keeping your phone away, focus more on a non-digital project or hobby. It can be anything you find fulfilling and doesn't involve your computer screens. I've found making laser or vinyl cutter projects at the local maker space great myself.

Molly Struve profile image
Molly Struve
@molly_struve
twitter logo
@ThePracticalDev I think, especially for developers, it is really good if you can find a hobby outside of the digital world to help keep you grounded in reality and what matters. #DevDiscuss
01:29 AM - 15 May 2019
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Find a Healthy Digital Balance

This discussion was all about fighting digital addiction. But we shouldn't forget the good things digital activity does for us too. As developers, our digital identities are a big career asset.

Laurie profile image
Laurie
@laurieontech
twitter logo
Digital identity is also a big part of your reputation and networking possibilities.
If you have no footprint, or an outdated one, you’re likely losing out on opportunities. And once you’re a part of it, it’s hard to step away and come back without losing track. #DevDiscuss
01:07 AM - 15 May 2019
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It's great for networking, finding new colleagues, and even new friends.

Lindsey Kopacz 🐞 profile image
Lindsey Kopacz 🐞
@littlekope
twitter logo
I will say, I've made so many great friends from the interwebs.

However, I notice myself picking up my phone a lot while I'm with my partner, and it bothers me. I should be more present.

#DevDiscuss
01:27 AM - 15 May 2019
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Laurie profile image
Laurie
@laurieontech
twitter logo
Another thing to keep in mind is that you can build genuine relationships online! But the online persona of the people you follow is not all there is to that person. It’s good to be reminded of that every once in a while. #DevDiscuss
01:30 AM - 15 May 2019
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So remember where the line is between "healthy digital activity" and "digital addiction" lies.

Max Antonucci profile image
Max Antonucci
@maxwell_dev
twitter logo
Doing a twitter chat to engage with lots of smart people in your network is fine 😀

Staying online afterwards to yell at people talking politics pointlessly at 1am is not fine 🙃 #DevDiscuss twitter.com/laurieontech/s…
01:37 AM - 15 May 2019
Laurie @laurieontech
We should all acknowledge the irony of talking about digital addiction from our phones, after work, on a social media platform. #DevDiscuss
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So if you need to duck out of #DevDiscuss early, this shows no one will judge and there's no reason to feel any FOMO. We're all managing our digital habits and addictions, and hopefully doing better each day 😊.

Dashiell Bark-Huss profile image
Dashiell Bark-Huss
@dashbarkhuss
twitter logo
With all this talk, I’m unplugging for the day! Gnight #DevDiscuss
01:31 AM - 15 May 2019
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See you all next Tuesday!

If there are any tweets from the discussion you think should have been included, post them in the comments below!

Cover Image courtesy of SafeBooru.org