Danielle Radin, NBC digital correspondent, on the five things you should do to have a healthier relationship to screens and technology

You need to have hobbies outside of social media. And think of it like this: the more hobbies you have, the more you can post about it on Instagram, making your posts look more dynamic. So it’s actually a double win: you’re gaining new skills that will boost your confidence, while also making your online […]

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You need to have hobbies outside of social media. And think of it like this: the more hobbies you have, the more you can post about it on Instagram, making your posts look more dynamic. So it’s actually a double win: you’re gaining new skills that will boost your confidence, while also making your online profile more interesting. No more car selfies! Go out there and do fun things!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Danielle Radin, digital correspondent for NBC San Diego, author, inventor, ergonomist, ethologist and social media guru.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your backstory?

I grew up in Hermosa Beach, a beach town in Los Angeles County. My father is a contracts attorney and corporate executive and my mother is a jewelry designer. I have a younger sister named Jenna who edits all my books. I got my start in journalism when I was fifteen. I would search online for jobs writing local news features and music reviews. As I got older, I became more interested in using a camera, shooting and editing. I quickly realized that broadcast news was one of the only ways to tell local stories to a wide audience that impacts the community. That’s when I realized I wanted to become a broadcast reporter. After taking on a traditional TV journalist role for three years, I switched over to the digital sphere. Now I report on-air, online, on mobile and on social media!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn that I cold applied to NBC 7 through the company website without knowing a single person who worked at the station. I talked to HR professionals for months in LA before I ever spoke to my current bosses in San Diego. It’s always better to know someone who can help you at the place you are applying to work, but sometimes you just have to go for it!

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

My current role is the first and only of its kind in all of NBC, so we are really working to shape the job so that we can stay ahead of the ever-changing wave that is digital journalism. Who knows what it will look like in a few years from now. Hopefully, we’ll be at the forefront of whatever it is.

Between work and personal life, the average adult spends nearly 11 hours looking at a screen per day. How does our increasing screen time affect our mental, physical, and emotional health?

As a social media reporter, I probably spend more than the average amount of time looking at a screen per day, to be honest. It’s a tough balance, especially if you have to be on a phone or computer for your job. And it really can affect your mental health. We joke about things like FOMO, the fear of missing out, when we see our friends posting a picture of a place we weren’t invited to. But some people, especially the younger generation, are deeply affected by this kind of rejection. These are real emotions that can especially affect kids who are struggling to fit in at school.

There’s also an ergonomic factor to it. I was just talking to someone who has a pinched nerve in their upper neck that gives her horrible migraines. This is due to looking down at a cell phone too much. That’s why it is important to stretch your neck once for every hour you’re looking down at your phone. Rotating your neck in a circle a few times can help immensely. Staring at a computer screen for too long can make your eyesight worse. Eye doctors recommend for every hour you look at a screen, look away at something far in the distance for 10 seconds. This will protect you from the eye strain that screens cause.

Can you share your top five ways people can improve mental wellness and create a healthy relationship with technology?

  • You need to have hobbies outside of social media. And think of it like this: the more hobbies you have, the more you can post about it on Instagram, making your posts look more dynamic. So it’s actually a double win: you’re gaining new skills that will boost your confidence, while also making your online profile more interesting. No more car selfies! Go out there and do fun things!
  • If looking at a certain profile makes you upset, don’t do it. This is easier said than done but just look at the profile of someone who makes you happy every time you want to look at the one that makes you miserable.
  • Similarly, if you are waiting on someone’s call or text and it is driving you crazy, go into the person’s contact information on your iPhone and click “hide alerts.” You won’t receive any texts or calls from them, until you turn the button back off. Once it is off, you will still receive everything the person sent during that time it was on. This is great for getting your mind off a flaky person who you’re not hearing from. It is instant relief from being hung up on your phone!
  • Do a phone cleanse whenever possible. Put your phone in another room and don’t look at it. Or, if you don’t want to be away from it (I know it can be like leaving your arm in another room) then put it on airplane mode so no one can contact you. Try to do this for an hour a week at first and work up to five hours a week. You’ll find more productive things to do with those hours.
  • Take one of your social media profiles that you’re on, even a lesser used one like Flickr or Tumblr, and just delete it! You’ll feel so free getting rid of a site that you no longer have to be responsible for.
  • Lastly, have a meaningful face-to-face conversation with someone. Tell a coworker a funny story or something you admire about him or her. Genuine in-person connections are becoming less and less, but this is what makes us feel bonded to someone way more than a Facebook message ever could. Invite someone to coffee that you normally wouldn’t. You might find that you make a new friend, and that’s a way better feeling than a new Twitter follower.

51% of Americans say they primarily use their smartphone for calls. With the number of robocalls increasing, what are ways people can limit interruptions from spam calls?

Cybersecurity experts I’ve interviewed for stories tell me robocalls are the biggest scam problem in San Diego right now, and I suspect that is the case in many cities across the United States. If you get 20 or more spam calls a day, register with the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry by googling it and putting your phone number and email in. It takes less than a minute to sign up.

Between social media distractions, messaging apps, and the fact that Americans receive 45.9 push notifications each day, Americans check their phones 80 times per day. How can people, especially younger generations, create a healthier relationship with social media?

Checking your phone is inevitable, but what are you doing in the small windows of time that you’re not looking at technology? Are you stressing about an email you received or a tweet you need to send? Are you constantly thinking about your next Instagram post or wondering what Snapchat you’ll send next? Try not to think about social media unless you’re on it.

When you are not on it, practice mindful meditation. Think about a nonsensical word over and over in your head and try to only focus on the word for 10 minutes. It will clear your thoughts and make you feel in the moment. You can even buy devices that help you stay in the mindful, like these biomedical earrings.

80% of smartphone users check their phones before they brush their teeth in the morning. What effect does starting the day this way have on people? Is there a better morning routine you suggest?

If it is hard for you to wake up in the morning, I would actually suggest looking at a screen to make it easier. Doctors warn that you should not look at your computer to watch Netflix or read an article before you go to sleep because the light from the screen keeps your brain awake. Well, it can also wake your brain up when you need it. I know it sounds counterintuitive to tell you to look at the screen, but use technology to your advantage when you can.

Can you please give us your favorite life lesson quote?

Don’t assume you know what kind of life a person leads or how the person feels based on social media. It would be like assuming everything people say in a job interviews encapsulates their whole lives. Social media is the persona we put out to other people: it’s like saying you had a good weekend to a coworker at the water cooler when in fact the weekend was terrible.

Often times, people post restaurants they’re supposedly at to Instagram story and Snapchat story when in reality they went there a week ago and they’re in bed. They just want to make it look like they are doing something on a Saturday night. You never have any idea what the true person is dealing with behind the profile. Just be as positive as you can on social media. There’s no reason to have jealousy or negative feelings towards someone’s persona they are putting out there. Be kind, not just online but to everyone you meet. We all go through things every day. We’re all doing the best we can.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I already have inventions I’ve created to help harness mindfulness and relieve the anxiety of living in this technology-driven world. I plan to continue to invent things like this to help people who are stressed out by technology. Fight the harms of technology with better technology!

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media? Follow me on Instagram! @DanielleRadinMMJ

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