Ambassador Chloe shares her thoughts about the amount of digital distractions that young people encounter on a daily basis and how she plans to be more mindful about her online activity.  


We are constantly surrounded by advertisements, notifications, and apps vying for our attention. This unprecedented level of connectivity brought about by the digital age has completely transformed how we interact with everything around us, for better or for worse. Especially for young people who are already swarmed with school, exams, work, college, and everything in between, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the overload of information.

This paradox of over-information is a double-edged sword: it does help millions of people research and contribute to global projects, and it makes homework a LOT easier. However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to identify meaningful content from viable sources amidst the noise. That’s what I think a lot of young people are missing: something meaningful. We’re sifting through hundreds of Tweets and shows daily, but all we’re really being given below the surface is meaningless jargon.

 

Research suggests that this constant stream of exposure has real cognitive effects. I’m sure you’ve noticed your attention span fragmenting a few months after you downloaded TikTok. I remember I used to be able to sit and read for hours on end; now I can barely do my homework for half an hour without my mind drifting. 

 Other Ambassadors have commented on this too:

‘I think there’s a lot of toxicity on the Internet that it can be really easy to get sucked into, with these echo chambers that never produce anything original.’ - Jessica

‘I’ve noticed people in my life, myself included, are glued to their phones and just ignore real life. It’s sad when you catch yourself.’ - Emma 

However! This is not just an article bemoaning the fall of the dreaded 'Kids These Days' and their new fan-dangled iPhones. I want to inspire people (and give myself a kick to continue my own journey) to become curators of clarity. You might have seen this in popular artistic online movements such as #corecore, where a level of calm awareness allows you to step back from an immediate experience. Just as a museum curator chooses their artworks to convey certain narratives, we can adopt a similar mindset to navigate the digital space. Let’s talk about it!

Curating digital clarity (also sometimes called media literacy) involves actively selecting, organizing, and evaluating the information we encounter. Instead of being passive consumers, we are empowered to create our own online space that favours us over ad companies and big tech. 

So how can I become a curator? There are many steps that you can take to enhance your digital diet, but the most difficult hurdle is making a promise to yourself and sticking to it. We all know how easy it is to fall back into scrolling away the hours on Instagram, so here are a few strategies:

1) Digital detox: Leave the screens for a while. Schedule a few hours away from your devices to reconnect with reality.

2) Fact-checking: If you see a catchy headline pumped with wow factor, don’t be quick to assume. They’re purposefully polarizing, so check your sources.

3) Reflecting: Take a step back and think about what sort of digital media makes you happy. Don’t be scared to delete some apps or filter some tags.

4) Digital minimalism: Declutter your digital space by unsubscribing from spam newsletters and unfollowing irrelevant accounts.

5) Critical thinking exercises: Engage in conversations and activities that challenge you in new ways to encourage your developing brain.

When I told my friends that I was going to try and get off the screens for a while, the overwhelming response I got was ‘why?’. In the age of global digitization, it’s almost impossible to separate our world from the online world. Curating clarity enables us to use the power of the Internet without succumbing to over-information. By adopting the curator’s mindset, we can remain safe and happy online.

Happy browsing! 


Thanks for this thought-provoking blog post - some brilliant suggestions for ensuring you're time spent online is enjoyable and doesn't have a negative effect on you. For more tips around keeping yourself safe online and how to spot misinformation - check out our recent online workshop - Media Smart: Your Guide to Fact-Checking in the Digital Age