Last week we looked at the benefits resulting from our digital world. But now it’s time to consider the variety of challenges we face. As we think about some of these challenges, I wonder what’s missing. Where else have you seen and experienced difficulties? With this knowledge we can begin to think clearly about developing wellbeing in our digital world. So, let’s take a look at some of the challenges.
The worldwide scale of the Internet and the way users can often remain anonymous has led to new forms of crime and terrorism. This is seen, for example, through the breach of private data, through radicalisation promoted online, online bullying, drug trading or sexual abuse. As young people regulate inhabit the digital world, online safety is a key challenge that the international community is seeking to address.
The power of digital technology is its ability to draw users into addictive behaviour. This can result in reduced focus in the world around us. Through addictive social media platforms, games and messaging apps, time and money is wasted for little return. It can also result in real-life connection being seen as a distraction to more important matters on one’s digital device or even, in second-hand living; with real-life events witnessed and recorded through a phone screen.
The internet has seen the rise in “Fake News’ where false information is presented through various forms of media to manipulate certain political opinions. This increase in mis-information is seen also in false and filtered images for advertising and, scarily so, with ‘Deepfake’ where audio or video content is manipulated by others. Deepfake routinely sees politicians and celebrities’ audio and visual records distorted to present divisive political views or, most commonly, used within pornographic content. The effect of the distortion of all this data results in confusion as to what sources to trust and fear of how your personal data may be abused.
The tendency now to socialise through digital devices has brought a significant shift away from real-life interaction. As relationships are increasingly conducted away from one’s community and family resulting, as some studies suggest, in various forms of mental illness. Social media also commonly presents false and filtered images of people and their social lives. This can cause distress to us as we compare these seemingly attractive and exciting lives to our own.
This a pretty brief but sobering look at the challenges of our digital world but there are things we can do to protect ourselves, stay sane and keep safe. Next week we look at how we can do this through developing digital wellbeing. We look forward to seeing you there!