2.2. Reducing anxiety while developing digital skills and teaching

For some adults – including young adults – their incomplete use of the internet is linked with low literacy and numeracy, and to lacking the confidence and motivation to learn new skills and apply them in their lives. Digital skills are key to inclusion in society. Gaining these skills, along with the confidence and motivation to use them in real life, can help people to have better lives.  People may feel embarrassed about not knowing how to use the internet and computer anxiety is a consequence. Computer anxiety is a widely occurring phenomenon since the introduction of computers into our life, showing that users who know little about computers are more likely to have anxiety about them but digital-anxiety can be reduced by increasing their ability to solve technological and digital problems. Anxiety itself is defined as a mental health disorder which encompasses “excessive” fears and worries. This often “silent” disability can manifest itself in numerous ways, and daily life is no exception. 

Common signs that you may be experiencing digital stress when you aren’t skilled while starting to use digital tools include the following:

  1. Anxiety or panic attacks
  2. Isolation or withdrawal from social activities
  3. Increased secrecy
  4. Anger
  5. Depression
  6. Failing grades
  7. Rebellion
  8. Stomach-aches, headaches or other general body aches not explained by a medical condition

Access to technology and digital skills is critical in gaining access to key areas in school and social life, but is technology contributing to the apparent growth in anxiety problems seen in the modern world? What is it about digital and new technology that is making many of us anxious and stressed? IT anxiety is characterised by feelings of worry and apprehension along with physical tension relating to one’s current or future use of computers, for instance, the fear of making mistakes or losing data. It can also lead to technostress. At its most extreme, IT anxiety can become ‘technophobia’ which involves resistance to using technology at all and can provoke a lack information about technology and digital literacy.

How can you cope with this IT and digital anxiety?

Be Prepared

This is the Boy Scouts’ motto for a reason: it’s clever advice. When dealing with computers and the needed digital skills, many of us are a little intimidated, just wanting to learn the very basics and deal with the technical stuff as little as possible. While this is understandable, you can save yourself stress down the map by learning the nuts and bolts of how your systems work by reading the manuals and perhaps a book or two on computers, and practice, practice and practice.

Back up Often

If you don’t already have this worked into your routine, it’s vital that you start backing up your files regularly (we recommend once a week), so that if you run into main difficulties, you don’t lose much of your precious time and work.

But what happens if you aren’t afraid of using computers but you need constantly checking email and be active in social media and you have the feeling that you have to be constantly connected and interacting and if you are not, you are lost and the consequences can be negative?

We all have a love-hate relationship with email and social media and sometimes we complain that we get too much email but conversely, we check it far too often for the fear of missing out (FOMO). Email is often exacerbated by multiple email accounts to cover different areas of your lives, i.e., business, personal and interests such as sports clubs / church group, etc. Moreover, you have the necessity of checking social media again and again and again so you don’t feel out of the loop: so, you know you’re doing okay, so you don’t feel left out. 

How to manage your Fear of Missing Out? FOMO is self-invented psychological torture and it’s a figment of our mind’s worst imagination.

Here are tips from keep your mental health during your FOMO feeling

Notifications

Be kind to yourself and turn off all email announcements on your desktop and mobile phone – you don’t want the continuous intermission. This includes turning off the annoying email count number that often appears on the image of your email client. Seeing 100 unread emails is only going to peak your stress levels and entice you to take a peek at your emails.

You don’t need to see every email, even from key stakeholders; email isn’t a direct messaging and takes you away from doing in-depth work.

While you’re there, turn off all non-essential notifications including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp – switching off notifications can be incredibly liberating. Also, move your email applications to the second page on your smartphone.

Healthy distance

Don’t say “yes” to events for the fear of missing out, and keep a healthy distance from other peoples’ screened versions of their lives. For one week, log the amount of time you spend checking emails, texts or social media on a daily basis. What else could you be doing with that time? The fear of missing out is real and FOMO can be dangerous, but if you know what to look for FOMO is reversible. Think JOMO. Joy of Missing Out.

Set priorities. 

Remember that the amount of information you are capable of handling is limited and focus on the people and data that really interest you or may be useful to you.

Take action. 

If you are permanently connected for fear of what you may miss, what you are really missing is life. Instead of looking at what others are doing, and spending your free time photographing, recording, and publishing your activities, enjoy good experiences and share them with those who matter to you.

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