Digital Technologies for Well-Being and Mental Health

This webinar examined how the COVID-19 crisis affects our mental lives, focusing on the role of emerging technologies. Online technologies have recently been enlisted in the fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but these technologies also change how we connect with one another and other aspects of our digital well-being. This was compounded by extended lockdowns. Under these conditions online tools provide a crucial link to the outside world, which makes many of us are more reliant on technology than ever. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected our lives online, especially our ability to connect to one another?

Dr. Elif Ozcan, Associate Professor of Sound-driven Design and Research, Director of Critical Alarms Lab and Care Technology Lead at Erasmus Medical Centre Rotterdam at the Department of Adult Intensive Care. She also leads We\Visit: a tool that facilitates video-calling by appointment.

WeVisit explored how technology could facilitate emotional bonding. What makes it comforting and emotionally safe? Elif used her extensive collective knowledge in sound design for medical settings knowledge to lead the WeVisit project. “It was an emotional response and urge to put my knowledge in action to help”. She recognised the same altruistic need to help both in senior researchers as well as students. In her talk she discussed the process of developing the digital platform and how during the process researchers resonated with the challenges of the patients they were aiming to help, going through the same pandemic and same lockdown. 

Dr. Matthew J. Dennis is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellow at TU Delft and specialises in how online technology can increase well-being.

Matthew discussed how we can live well with online technologies. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the use of online products and services. We are now using the Internet to work, shop, socialise, and to obtain basic medical information. While being able to do this is fortunate in many ways, living a life that is almost entirely mediated by online technologies comes with its own problems. In the short term, extended screentime has already been shown to cause physical, mental, and emotional discomfort. In the long term, COVID-19 might end up shaping our digital well-being for years or even decades. Matthew's work aims to show how digital well-being can be maintained (and improved) under pandemic conditions.

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