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By Kerry Gallagher

This educators’ series on digital wellness is being published in partnership with MASCD.

Educators are surely familiar with the term “digital citizenship.” We are familiar with coaching and modeling for our students the ways toward acting as an upstander, blocking and reporting bullies and bad actors, and making the internet a more positive and truthful place.

There is so much more to a healthy digital life than digital citizenship. I like to call this concept DIGITAL WELLNESS and our students and their families are hungry to learn about all of the ways they can develop better habits for technology use. In fact, 54% of U.S. teens think they spend too much time on their smartphones. Even their parents are eager for some guidance. Pew Research Center reports that 33% of American adults tried to cut down on internet or smartphone time at some point in the last 18 months. Parents and teens alike admit to struggling with distraction and focus when using their screens and researchers are still working to determine whether there is a correlation between screen time and the likelihood of anxiety or depression. So, while digital citizenship and cyberbullying prevention are worthy topics for schools to cover, there is more ground to cover when determining a strategy for promoting positive healthy uses of technology and mitigating those unhealthy habits.

So, what exactly is DIGITAL WELLNESS? A school culture of digital wellness certainly includes discussions of good citizenship, and it also encourages members of the community to consider technological and digital influences on other areas of overall digital health including:

  • physical: rejuvenating sleep, consistent exercise, eye health​
  • cognitive: harnessing opportunities to learn, passive and active screen use, ability to focus and concentrate
  • emotional: creation and maintenance of quality relationships, connection and escapism
  • community: posting and sharing accurate information, making the internet a more positive place, purposeful activism

In the coming months, we will examine each of these areas of digital wellness in more depth via a series of blog posts, social media posts, and video/audio podcasts. We will dig into research and ask you, fellow educators, to share your stories and experiences so that we can build healthy schools and classrooms together. The past 2 years have forced us to go through a transition of how we use and rely on powerful technologies. Let’s embark on a journey to fulfill the promise of using these tools for the benefit of our school communities while also promoting digital wellness.


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