Personal Tech & Wellbeing

Course description

Our personal tech devices are important tools. They provide connection, allow us to complete academic and career-based work and engage in hobbies, and serve as a way to find answers and generate ideas, to name a few. Use of personal tech can also negatively impact wellbeing: psychologically, physically, socially, and academically. This course addresses the ways in which technology can detract from and contribute to a person’s overall wellbeing and strategies for engaging with personal tech in ways that are safe, productive, and helpful. Public health and psychology frameworks will help students explore society’s ties to technology and empower students to examine their own relationship with technology and the ways in which it influences wellbeing.

Course themes

How does our use of tech impact our lives?

  • Explore evidence-based wellbeing outcomes associated with use of personal mobile technology
  • Describe impacts of changes in personal technology use over time, including differences and disparities based on identities, age, and level of access
  • Audit personal values and examine how time is spent using technology in alignment with these values

What impact does the design of our personal technologies have on wellbeing?

  • Examine motives and intentions of companies that design and create products and platforms
  • Explore typical human tendencies and brain function—specifically attention and focus—related to our interaction with personal technology
  • Consider language used to describe problematic tech use and the impact of this language

Personal technologies are here to stay and part of many aspects of our lives. What skills are necessary to ensure we are getting the most from them?

  • Develop skills to critically assess various sources of information including research studies, news, opinion pieces, and other media
  • Identify opportunities to increase security and privacy during interactions online
  • Practice ongoing safe, efficient, effective, and health-promoting use of personal mobile technology
  • Build awareness of the ways tech can potentially help or harm relationships

How can we find balance between the benefits of using personal technologies and time spent away from them?

  • Identify opportunities to modify technology-related behaviors to enhance wellbeing
  • Explore the benefits of non-digital experiences and time away from technology
  • Outline personal standards around tech use that include both boundaries and etiquette
  • Create a personalized plan for leveraging technology and responding to changes in personal technology in ways that contribute to overall wellbeing
Opening quotes

I really changed my mindset around my relationship with my phone and other tech devices. I view them as neither good nor bad things, but that I can use them in positive and negative ways for my wellbeing.

Closing quotes
Opening quotes

This course has made me more aware and mindful. I have taken a few of the [Rothenberger Institute] courses because I feel that they truly improve my wellbeing and that is really valuable to me in a class.

Closing quotes
Opening quotes

I have changed my online consumption habits, I have started to become more mindful of my technology usage, and have reduced stress overall as a result.

Closing quotes
Opening quotes

This was a very practical and informative class. Not to mention that it was structured intentionally to be online, which made it an easy student experience.

Closing quotes
Opening quotes

I’m definitely much more conscious and aware of how I interact with technology. Because of the time we’re living in, I’m still quite tied to my laptop and my phone, but I still find it helpful to be aware of this and take time away from technology when I need it.

Closing quotes

Among Fall 2020 enrolled students in Personal Tech & Wellbeing at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities who completed their course evaluation, 97% self‐reported increases in awareness of others’ perspectives related to course topics and 86% increased their awareness of campus services or resources. In addition, not only did they report increased confidence in applying the information and skills learned in the course, but also actual changes in their behaviors. The degree of change—somewhat, moderately, or very—slightly differed for each of these items.

students’ self-reported increases Fall 2020