Wired But Grounded: Navigating Digital Wellness in a Tech-Driven World

In a world that's incessantly buzzing with the sound of digital devices and screens radiating with notifications, we are faced with the paradox of tech: while it has exponentially expanded our horizons, it also presents a challenge to what we prioritize in our daily lives.

For those of us in tech, digital wellness, as a term, takes on an even murkier meaning. Our lives are infused with technology  - depend on it, in fact. However, while it’s easy to focus on connection only from a technical point-of-view, the reality is that sometimes we have to disconnect to connect. 

Connect with other people, that is.

So how can we toe the line more successfully, forging connections with real humans while also leveraging the benefits of technology for the greater good? We’ll break down the core tenants of digital health and wellness (and some best practices) in this post, featuring an interview with Kendall Moore, the CTO and co-founder of Sicura. 

What is Digital Wellness?

Digital wellness is the harmonious coexistence between the use of technology and the pursuit of a life that’s healthy, fulfilling, and balanced. It’s about recognizing the impact of our digital habits and proactively managing our time to make sure that our digital lives enhance the human experience, rather than diminish it or distract from it. 

This might look a little different to everyone. Says Kendall Moore, CTO and co-founder of Sicura, “To me, digital wellness describes the balance between time spent using digital technology versus other non-digital aspects of life. In particular, I believe digital wellness is important for maintaining and prioritizing mental and physical health as well as building relationships and strong connections with other people.”

Striking this balance has always been important - but perhaps now more than ever. With the digital landscape evolving at an unprecedented pace, the issue of digital well-being is rising to the forefront of public discourse. As of January 2024, there were more than 5.35 billion Internet users worldwide - the vast majority of the global population. 

How Important is Digital Wellness?

In a hyperconnected world, empathy is often the first casualty. Our interactions with technology impact not just our own well-being, but also that of others. Misuse of digital platforms often leads to cyberbullying, misinformation, and the spread of negativity.

Not only that, but as AI continues to evolve, the importance of connection and digital wellness becomes increasingly pronounced. While AI offers incredible advancements and efficiencies, it also raises concerns about the potential detachment from human connection and the impact on overall well-being.

By cultivating a more empathetic and considerate approach to our digital communications, we can positively influence the well-being of those around us. 

Moore says, “The people that I interact with digitally, be it work or personally, all also have non-digital lives. Remembering this is key to treating them respectfully. A screen or a digital interface shouldn’t be a blocker to respectfulness and that is why I spend my time outside of my digital life focusing on relationship building and maintaining my physical and mental well-being.”

Simple actions, such as acknowledging the presence of others in a digital space and being mindful of our content before we click 'post', can go a long way in fostering a positive digital environment. 

“Having spent 7 years consulting, and another 3 as a technology leader and CTO, I’ve worked with thousands of people across every background imaginable. This has only been possible by empathizing with these people and building relationships. Specifically connecting on a level outside of just work to grow trust and understanding that there is more to life than what we see digitally,” Moore notes. 

Not only that, but too much time spent immersed in technology can detract from other important areas of our well-being too. “The more time I spend absorbed by digital technology (be it social media, games, general browsing, etc.) the more I can feel myself slipping at maintaining my mental and physical health,” says Moore.

How to Practice Digital Wellness

Here are a few realistic tips for practicing digital wellness:

Set Technology Use Goals

Setting personalized technology use goals is a powerful first step in your digital wellness journey. 

Whether it involves limiting screen time, reducing the frequency of social media checks, or using technology to enhance your hobbies (rather than replace them), setting achievable objectives can significantly improve your relationship with digital tools.

Establish Digital Boundaries

The boundary between the digital and physical worlds has blurred. However, defining when and where technology is appropriate can help maintain a healthy balance. 

Mindful Consumption

Before you scroll, click, or post, take a moment to assess the content's value. Will it enrich your life or knowledge? Encouraging a culture of mindful consumption helps in curating a digital space that is purposeful and positive.

Sunsetting Screen Time

The collective obsession with screens is a growing concern. Introducing daily 'screen-free' hours or participating in digital detox initiatives can lead to a more present and mindful existence. 

Moore exemplifies this idea by noting that his well-being flourishes when he takes time away from digital technologies.

Focus on Collaboration

The beauty of technology is that it allows us to collaborate, but the downside is that we can quickly turn into islands if we aren’t careful. 

The NSA recently released a report on securely deploying and maintaining artificial intelligence systems, which you can read here. Though this advice is more AI-specific, it’s something that can be applied on a broader scale as well. When we collaborate with other partners in tech, we are better equipped to keep our digital infrastructure safe - and to come up with novel solutions as new problems arise. 

Engage in Real Experiences

Video games, social media, and just general browsing on the Internet are all great things. They can teach us new things, help us let off some steam, and connect with thousands of other people around the globe. However, it’s also important to invest in real-world experiences and hobbies that bring joy, stimulation, and growth, providing a counterbalance to the virtual world. 

Moore emphasizes, “I have a few non-digital outlets. I play adult league hockey, I’m a world traveler, and have a partner with 3 teenage kids who provide me tons of opportunities to disconnect from the digital world and instead focus on personal relationships.”

As part of these real experiences, do your best or learn more about others in the non-virtual world. Moore shares a story of meeting a customer who shared a passion with card magic. 

This gentleman, Todd, taught at summer magic camps, put on private events, and is well-known in the magic community - aside from being a phenomenal systems administrator and DevOps engineer. “I’d say he was one of the smartest and most well-rounded people I’ve ever worked with throughout my career,” Moore says.

Todd shared a card trick with Moore, after which they instantly connected. That kind of human, real-life experience is one that’s tough to share over the screen. “To this day,” Moore says, “I think this was the best consulting engagement I’ve ever had and it was because I could connect with the customer on a level that wasn’t just about technology.”

How Sicura Supports Digital Wellness for Its Employees

Employers have a major role to play in nurturing digital wellness - and here at Sicura, we recognize that and embrace it wholeheartedly. We take a multifaceted approach to digital wellness that includes unlimited PTO. We encourage everyone to take advantage of this. 

We also cover the full cost of healthcare with an HSA to make sure people are taking care of their health in every way they can. We even have an hour-long wellness meeting every Thursday to let people share what’s going on. 
Above all though, says Moore, “we ensure that every member of the Sicura team is empathetic and respectful. No two people share the exact same passions and hobbies but we encourage everyone to have something that lets them disconnect.”

Our policy, ultimately, comes right back to why digital wellness is so important in the first place: to make sure we’re connecting with real, actual human beings on a deeper level.

Digital wellness is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. It's a dynamic, individualized pursuit that requires conscious choices and compassionate understanding - and that’s something we care deeply about here at Sicura