Digital Wellness: A Small Intervention

Yesterday, I collected mobile phones from all my students and put them away for more than two hours. Afterwards, I asked them to list words to describe how they felt without mobiles. The feedback was anonymous. The above image represents a word cloud of data.

While “relaxed” was the most frequently mentioned word, other words listed often were “no-distraction”, “free”, and “focussed." Some other positive words included “peace”, “light-minded”, “happiness”, “active”, “open”, “listener”, and “more concentration.” The negative terms were “anxious”, “empty”, “disconnected”, “incomplete” and “dependent.” Some felt disconnected, while some felt more connected. The former referred to a connection with the virtual world, while the latter with the ones present physically. Some felt “insecure”, “anxious”, and “urgency”, and a few experienced “no change” or “no difference” as well as “mixed feelings.”

“Hands” was an exciting response. Maybe, it was about realizing that one’s hands are empty or one did not know what to do with them. Similarly, “nostalgia” was intriguing. It was probably a reference to when there were no mobile phones. Someone wrote, “Nirvana!” However, there were some disturbing responses like “shivering”, “organless”, and “soulless.”

Since this intervention was conducted during a class, as a teacher, I strongly felt that all of them were with me more than ever. We were more engaged as a group and better listeners. I had also kept my mobile away and felt highly liberated. Although this was a very teeny-tiny intervention, it was strong enough to jolt some of us.

As we said in the world before mobile phones, “Zor ka jhatka, dheere se laga!”

P.S. I am planning a survey to scale up this intervention, if you would like to participate, please write to Please share if you have any feedback.

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Assistant Professor, Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur. PhD, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee.