Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

Digital Health

If you eat too much and mostly fast-food, the risk of becoming unhealthy is high. Apparently, the same happens with your digital health.

Digital Sobriety

The Goldilocks hypothesis comes from the fairy tale “The three bears” where there is a little girl which tastes three different bowls of porridge and chooses the one which is neither too hot nor too cold but as the right temperature. This assessment became a principle translated in the expression “ just the right amount.”

By now there is a well known major study this Goldilocks Hypothesis to quantify the relations between mental well-being and digital-screen use in adolescents. The study involved little more than 120,000 English students and divided digital-use by:

a) watching TV and movies;

b) playing video games;

c) using computers;

d) and using smartphones.

The results were explored in a recent article in Nature which synthesized the results in the following plot.

Not too much, not too little, but the plot shows a “right” number of hours as a maximum in mental well-being in every category. The highest variation within the scale is about 9%. And this is the moment I wondered: is it large or small?

Despite the lower values without any digital-screening or in excess, the influence of digital use in mental well-being is not relevant. On the contrary, it indicates that moderate amounts of digital use are good for our well-being. Is this in anyway related to digital nutrition?

Digital food

In a recent article in Medium, I came across this concept of ”Digital Nutrition”.

“We define digital nutrition as two distinct but complementary behaviors. The first is the healthful consumption of digital assets, or any positive, purposeful content designed to alleviate emotional distress or maximize human potential, health, and happiness. The second behavior is smarter decision-making, aided by greater transparency around the composition and behavioral consequences of specific types of digital content.”

There is no way to go back to a non-digital life. You may spend time making periodic digital fasting, but unless you get away from civilization, your life is in part digital. Thus, it makes sense having control over the digital nutrients feeding your digital life.

How selective are you relative to the digital nutrients you consume every day? And how do you control the amount consumed? Do you ever think about it?

The secret to a happy digital life is likely in the balance between the time spent online, the content consumed and how detached are you from your devices. It takes times to figure it out, but a greater awareness of what a digital life means in today’s culture seems of paramount importance.

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

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