What is Digital Nutrition?

September 2015's #scchat will be about Digital Nutrition. Join us on Twitter on Tuesday, September 1st at 8pm to chat more on this topic. You can learn more about #scchat and our Twitter chats on this page.

Making healthy choices when it comes to technology is something I struggle with on a daily basis as a school counselor educator, and hey, just as a human being trying to do the best she can!  Many of the school counselor connections I have also struggle with how to use technology in a healthy way, and by association, with how to help our students do the same. Here are some of the questions we may be asking ourselves about our healthy practices with technology:

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  • TIME: How much time screen time or exposure to social media is healthy? For me? For my students?
  • MODERATION: How do I moderate my online activity? Should I take small steps to cut back on technology or go cold turkey with a digital detox?
  • QUALITY: What sites are the most beneficial for me and the work I do? How do I get quality information and avoid the junk? 

Enter Jocelyn Brewer, Australian School Counsellor and Psychologist. I first met Jocelyn on Twitter, and have now had the honor to meet her in person. I now consider her a like-minded colleague, valuable resource and a very cool friend. Jocelyn created and introduced the concept of "Digital Nutrition." It's a pretty simple idea and it makes sense almost immediately when you think about it. You can view my 20-min interview with Jocelyn below where she explains it more or you can visit her website, which is chockfull of helpful information.

Perhaps what I've found most helpful about the concept of digital nutrition is that it gives me a very relevant metaphor to use in thinking about technology use. After learning about "Digital Nutrition", pretty quickly I began to think of everything I did with technology in food and nutrition terms. What's my social media consumption time been today? Have I been scrolling and browsing (i.e. eating) out of habit or for nourishment? Is reading this online article like "empty calories" or does it provide me with something nutritious for my well-being? Does my online activity leave me craving more, feeling uncomfortably stuffed or comfortably fed? And what about my students, who live lives that are inherently digital? What healthy and unhealthy habits do they have? What sites and practices are nutritious for them and how can I make sure they know about them? How can I help them value a healthy relationship with technology?

Shortly after my conversation with Jocelyn, this Huffington Post article about a "digital diet" popped up in my Twitter feed. But "diet" and "nutrition" are very different words with very different connotations. As this article highlights, the debate is still out on whether or not radical or small changes in use are best when it comes to technology. I believe Jocelyn is on to something big with "Digital Nutrition." Since she's a school counsellor too, I know she gets it - the kind of struggles we face in the field and how we have to figure out the whole technology thing for ourselves and how to model for our students. Jocelyn and "Digital Nutrition" are ones to watch.

Join us on #scchat this Tuesday to learn and chat more on this topic!

How does the idea of "Digital Nutrition" help you think about your own technology practices or about those of your students?