Smartphones are in our pockets, giving us 24/7 access to social media, news, and messaging.
This ease of use has led to certain habits that can harm our health like doom scrolling.
A licensed psychologist and Board Certified Coach, Tess Brigham, describe this phenomenon as constantly looking through negative news stories and social media posts, which can lead to a chain reaction of bad news.
The Negative Impacts of Excessive Doom Scrolling on Mental Health and Productivity
There is a lot of research on how too much media, especially bad media, can hurt your mental health. A study that was released in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that using electronic devices a lot, such as for social media and reading the news, is linked to more reports of poor mental health, such as depression and anxiety.
This constant exposure to upsetting content can also hurt our brains, making concentrating harder and lowering our productivity.
Microlearning: Streamlining Workplace Learning
Conversely, the digital age has brought about effective learning methods like microlearning.
The goal of microlearning is to teach in short, focused bursts. This method makes the knowledge easier to understand and helps people remember it.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology showed that microlearning methods can help people remember and use what they have learned, especially at work.
The Allure and Dangers of Doom Scrolling
Lost Time and Opportunities
Digital use in Australia has hit levels that have never been seen before. A new study found that 96% of the people in Australia use the internet, and 81% of those people use social media.
Even though people use the internet for 5 hours and 51 minutes a day, which is 5.9% less than a year ago, they spend 2 hours and 4 minutes on social media, which is 6% more than a year ago.
The Digital Habit Loop
Social media algorithms have become the unseen puppeteers that control how we act online.
Instead of showing content chronologically, these systems now put content in order of how long it believes it will hold your attention. A more cynical but realistic explanation for this is to keep people interested in the platform for as long as possible because the more ads a person sees, the more information the platform can gather about what they like and how they act.
This information is very helpful for making ads that people are more likely to click on.
Attention Spans Are…Wait What Was That?
A study from the Technical University of Denmark showed that people's attention spans are getting shorter because there is so much information out there.
Professor Sune Lehmann said it well: "People now have more things to focus on, but they usually only do so for short periods of time."
Dopamine, a chemical that drives behaviour, is at the heart of this kind of digital interaction.
Our brains have three main "reward pathways": the mesocortical, mesolimbic, and nigrostriatal. These paths, which are often broken in people with addiction, control dopamine release in different parts of the brain, which changes how those parts work.
Messages from loved ones or praise from peers are examples of rewarding social inputs that turn on these dopaminergic reward circuits. Social media is designed to turn these reward pathways on as well.
Mental Health Implications
Our digital and real lives are so intertwined now that many people feel anxious when they are away from their gadgets. 73% of people say they have this fear, which doesn't seem so strange when you consider that US adults spend between 2 and 4 hours a day on their devices, adding up to over 2,600 taps on the phone each day, according to Harvard University.
Sleep habits being messed up is another thing that can impact mental health. Smartphones give off bright blue light, which can stop the body from making melatonin, a hormone that helps control sleep. Using these devices right before bed can delay sleep cues and mess up how your body naturally sleeps and wakes up.
Do we need more evidence of how deep our digital dependencies are? Probably not, but here goes. This study talks about how many of us imagine our phones vibrating even when they aren't there. Spooky much?
If we understand the bigger effects of our digital habits, we can have a more healthy and rewarding online experience.
Embracing the Power of Micro-Learning
What is Micro-Learning?
Microlearning is a new and effective way to learn. Microlearning is made up of short, focused pieces of learning that teach specific knowledge or skills. These short, targeted learning bursts aren't just meant to be quick; they're also meant to give learners knowledge that is easy to understand and answers specific needs.
Platforms like Blinkist show what microlearning is all about. Users don't have to spend hours reading a whole book; they can get the main point and most significant ideas in much less time.
In the same way, MiTraining's subscription plan gives users access to lots of short, online courses for a small annual fee.
The Case For Micro-Learning: 8 Compelling Statistics
94% of Learning and Development Professionals prefer microlearning because it's the preferred method for their learners, compared to traditional, longer eLearning courses. (Boyette study)
Microlearning improves retention by 22%, helping people remember information better than traditional training. (Dresden University Study)
One minute of video content is as effective as reading 1.8 million words when it comes to training retention. (Forrester)
Employees, on average, can only spend about 5 minutes per day on development due to their busy schedules. (Deloitte)
75% of tech-savvy employees would rather watch a video than read emails, documents, or web articles. (Forrester)
Learning in small chunks makes transferring knowledge from the classroom to the workplace 17% more efficient. (Journal of Applied Psychology)
In a survey of 385 employees, 50% said they would use their company's learning tools more if the courses were shorter. (Software Advice)
In 2019, videos made up 80% of all internet traffic worldwide. This will only increase. (CISCO)
Strategies to Transition from Doom Scrolling to Micro-Learning
Determine Your 'Why'
Before starting any learning project, figuring out why you're doing it is essential. Why do you want to learn this new information or skill? Do you want to chase a new position? Become a specialist? Learn how to understand analytics. Manage a team. Create a psychologically safe workplace.
These are all micro goals that micro-learning could help with. A clear goal can help you stay on track, keep you motivated, and guide your learning.
Build A Learning Habit
The best way to learn something long-term is to work it into your daily life. Set aside certain times, places, or signals for your learning lessons. Perhaps you listen to a podcast in the morning over breakfast. You could ask your manager for 1 hour weekly during work time for learning and development.
Finding time regularly can help you keep up with industry trends and fuel your love for learning.
Digital Detox and Mindful Consumption
It's not enough to just not “drink”, you also have to choose what you “drink”. One good way to deal with the negative symptoms of doom scrolling is to do a digital detox. People can change how they use technology by purposely taking breaks from social media and by employing mindful consumption.
Pick and choose what you see on their digital feeds, focused on educational, uplifting material, and in line with your goals for personal growth.
Engaging with Learning Communities
Learning is best done with the help of others. Getting involved with learning groups can greatly improve the way you learn. Online platforms, groups, or even workshops in your area that are similar to your interests can be very helpful. These sites allow you to share ideas, ask questions, and work with other students.
Being part of a group gives you access to a lot of tools and makes you more motivated and responsible.
The Positive Outcomes of Choosing Micro-Learning
An average Australian spends 2 hours and 4 minutes a day on social media. This adds up to an incredible 31.43 days a year. This could mean 45 minutes of nonstop reading in the evening and 10-15 short social media breaks throughout the day.
The critical question is: What would be more valuable things to do during this time?
It can be hard to stay away from doom scrolling or constantly reading bad news. But the time spent on this task could be spent on something more useful, like microlearning.
A health psychology expert at University College London did a study that found it takes 66 days on average for a new habit to become automatic. The length of time can differ depending on the action, the person, and the situation. This study shows how useful microlearning can be. About two months is enough time for these habits to become deeply ingrained.
Just think about the possibilities: In the time you usually spend on social media, you could start a journey to improve yourself. The possibilities are huge, whether you want to learn a new language, try a new way to stay fit, or even get a business qualification.
1. Reallocate Your Time: The average amount of time Australians spend on social media each day is 2 hours and 4 minutes. Consider using even a tiny amount of this time to learn something new. This could mean spending 20 minutes a day learning a new language, taking a short course online, or reading a non-fiction book review. Over a year, this minor daily effort can add up to a lot of new information and skills.
2. Cultivate Micro Habits: University College London research shows that a new habit takes about 66 days to become routine. Start with small goals that you can reach. For example, stretch every day for 5 minutes to improve your health. These small habits can grow into bigger ones over time, which will help you grow as a whole person.
3. Engage in Purposeful Digital Consumption: Curate your digital surroundings instead of idly scrolling through social media. You can join online learning groups, subscribe to educational channels, and follow experts in areas that interest you.
Adding these steps to your daily routine can help you live a more knowledgeable, skilled, and well-balanced digital life. Always keep in mind that the digital world is just a tool. How you use it will decide how it affects your life.