UnPlug Children & Screens debrief Feb 2023


Historically Digital Wellbeing has been a duty of care. However, with the increase in digital demands in the last two years along with Right to Disconnect legislation, it is becoming a more strategic component. When also considering work design, it introduces a real opportunity to help increase staff performance, reduce staff turnover, and improve their wellbeing.

Research has shown that overall working hours have gone up by 20% since March 2020 with average output reducing by 18%[1]. A key driver for this is increased task switching (multi-tasking), constant task switching is exhausting, hence why we feel like we’ve got a lot done when we haven’t necessarily worked effectively. For example according to research[2];
• On average we receive 100 emails / day
• It takes a minimum of 70 seconds to get back to the task in hand
• That means we spend a minimum of 82 minutes / day just checking emails. 20% of our working time, just checking (not writing) emails.

Use the tools built into your phone to get an understanding of how you are using your devices. Once we have an understanding of where we need to make changes we then need to use behavioural nudges (friction as described via BJ Fogg’s model[3]).

• The need for breaks – Microsoft research showing brain scans with breaks / without – https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/work-trend-index/brain-research
• Brain oscillations – To check your chronobiology goto https://chronotype-self-test.info/

iPhone effect – Multiple studies showing the mere presence of a digital device in our line of sight reduces our focus and empathy[4]. Once you have an understanding of where this is impacting you, look to physically change your setup. For example, if you recognise that you have devices in your bedroom look to change the environment yourself with an alarm clock you really like as it’s a big change. We recommend voice assists (non-screen), sun rise alarm clocks (any brand) or a digital watch with a vibrating alarm (ideally with no apps / notifications from your phone).

To encourage the habit of focus, take time away from your devices. To assist with this use specific apps to prevent you picking up your smartphone – We recommended using gamified focus apps such as Forest on iPhone /Android (see below).

Digital Friction App limiters;
• Built in Apple: Settings > Screen Time menu, tap App Limits > Add Limit.
• Built-in Android: Settings > Digital Wellbeing & parental controls >Tap the chart > Choose app to limit and set how much time
• Forest app – Gamify the idea of not touching your phone (€2) / desktop (free) https://www.forestapp.cc/. The app adds in fun with the gamification of Forest with a positive environmental impact based on them planting real life trees too (http://help.forestapp.cc/en/articles/2209977-can-i-track-the-real-trees-i-planted)

We introduced the idea of Work Design at the end of the talk and in the Q&A. Work Design is a framework to ensure flexible working arrangements such as meeting free days work. Although over ten years old, this Harvard study with BCG is an excellent example of how this can work – https://hbr.org/2009/10/making-time-off-predictable-and-required

If you’d like to learn more about the area we recommend the following (there are many others – these are our top picks);
1. Books; Adam Alter – Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. Johann Hari – Stolen Focus. Gloria Mark – Attention Span
2. Influencers; Worth following are Cal Newport, Nir Eyal, Sherry Turkle (MIT), Tyler Shores (Cambridge), The Digital Wellness Institute, Amy Blankson and UnPlug.

If you are a parent please check out our resources at www.unplughq.com/parents

UnPlug also run the following;

• Keynotes on “Meaningful Connection in a Hyperconnected World” and “Managing Family Screen Time at Home”
• Masterclasses (small groups – design thinking, solution oriented) on;
1. Digital Wellbeing – Individual digital habits with an introduction to frameworks that will sustain them through digital culture.
2. Digital Culture – Working with organisational culture / work design to develop communication charters and digital working frameworks to encourage norms and values that will support new Digital Wellbeing habits
• Individual Digital Wellbeing coaching (if you’d like some personal help with digtial habits you can sign up for a free discovery call at https://calendly.com/unplughq/15-minute-coaching-discovery-session

Please email hello@unplughq.com for more details.

UnPlug are committed to continually improving our programmes and your suggestions will be taken into account for future training needs. Your feedback is valuable and is much appreciated. To complete our quick feedback survey either click on the following link; https://forms.office.com/r/e3FDzApW50

[4] https://journalistsresource.org/studies/international/global-tech/smartphones-mobile-distracting-cognition-iphone/


[1] https://bfi.uchicago.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/BFI_WP_2021-56.pdf

[2] Gloria Mark https://bit.ly/3dMPvdB

[3] BJ Fogg’s Behaviour Model (think the Domino’s button!);  https://www.behaviormodel.org/

[4] https://journalistsresource.org/studies/international/global-tech/smartphones-mobile-distracting-cognition-iphone/