What are Persuasive Technologies and How to Overcome Them

Have you ever looked up from scrolling on your phone and realized an hour has gone by? That hour you set aside for homework unintentionally getting taken over by watching Tik Tok videos. This scenario might feel all too real to you, and for a lot of students at Ohio State.

We use technology to connect with others, complete our academics and work assignments, and stream, play, listen and scroll for hours a day.

With such a great need for technology in our day to day lives, it can very easily feel like we are not in control of our usage. Rather than us using technology as a tool to benefit our personal and professional goals, it can feel like technology is in control of us. If you have ever thought this, your suspicions are absolutely correct.

Tech companies have strategically designed their products with persuasive technologies to keep us on their platforms for longer.

Persuasive technology is broadly defined by Wikipedia as, “technology that is designed to change attitudes or behaviors of the users through persuasion and social influence, but not necessarily through coercion.”

This means that platforms like social media, streaming services and apps are built with persuasive technology specifically designed to change users’ behaviors to meet the platform’s goals. These unique triggers use persuasion to get us to spend more time clicking, scrolling and ultimately using their product.

To improve our relationship with technology and our overall digital wellness, we need to find balance with our usage. Increasing our awareness of persuasive technologies and how they work can help us to identify tools to set up helpful boundaries to combat their influence.

The good news is that a lot of these features can be adjusted or turned off completely. Below you will find some examples of persuasive technologies and how to overcome them:

  • Red Dot Notifications – that little red notification at the corner of your app is strategically designed to grab your attention. Studies show that the color red triggers our brain to think there is a sense of urgency, in these cases clicking into the app and seeing what the notification is.
    • In your app settings you can remove the notification badge. Once you remove the badge, little red dots will no longer be all over your screen reducing the temptation to click into apps.
  • Push notifications like vibrations, buzzing, flashing.
    • Intentionally set your notifications based on your needs. Go through your apps and determine if you really need to be receiving push notifications from all of them. The more you limit, the less tempted you will be to pick up your phone at every buzz or beep.
  • Likes/Comments – feeding into our need for connections and rewards, we are motivated by what others think about us
    • Likes and comments play into our natural social instincts. By turning off comments we can reduce our motivation for external gratification and pressures to hit streaks and receive record likes from our peers.
  • Infinite Scroll – the never-ending supply of content online that automatically loads to keep us engaged.
    • Set up timers to limit the amount of time you spend on your favorite apps. In your app settings on your phone you can manage timers and set limits that work better for your lifestyle.
    • Similarly, on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, you can turn off autoplay. Autoplay is when the next episode automatically starts. If you find yourself stuck in front of the tv, turn autoplay off in our profile settings.

Spending a few minutes to tailor your devices and apps to your needs can help you gain back your attention, time, and overall make your devices work smarter for you.

If you are in need of support as it relates to your tech usage, check out the many helping resources on campus:

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator


Persuasive Technology (humanetech.com)

Understanding Health Insurance Part 2: Acronyms

We know that selecting a health insurance policy is confusing. That’s why we pulled together this 3-part Understanding Health Insurance blog post series.

The vocabulary (which was discussed in part one) is enough to make you want to pull your hair out. But on top of all the confusing terms, Health Insurance companies insist on using what feels like an endless number of acronyms. We have selected the most commonly used insurance acronyms below to provide you with the knowledge to make the best decision related to the policy you need.

  • HMO – Health Maintenance Organization
    • Generally recommended for those who do not have preexisting conditions. An HMO is an organization that requires the policyholder to select a primary care physician (PCP) and then only receive treatment and care from physicians and specialists within that established provider network.
    • In this type of plan, policyholders are limited to only visiting physicians or specialists recommended by the PCP. Visiting a healthcare provider not recommended by the PCP can result in paying all out-of-pocket expenses.
  • EPO – Exclusive Provider Organization
    • Very similar to an HMO, however there is more flexibility as a PCP does not need to be designated with this type of plan. Policyholders have a network of physicians and specialists to choose from and do not have to wait for a referral from a PCP.
    • Similar to the HMO, going outside the network will result in paying higher out-of-pocket costs.
  • PPO – Preferred Provider Organization
    • Almost exactly the same as the EPO. The major difference being that PPOs cover visits to out-of-network providers at a higher rate. While EPOs do not cover visits to out-of-network providers at all.
    • PPOs are often recommended for individuals who require regular visits to physicians or specialists outside of your plan’s network.
  • POS – Point of Service Plans
    • Similar to an HMO, a PCP must be appointed to receive treatment and referrals to other physicians and specialists within their provider network. The difference in a POS plan is that a PCP can refer patients to out-of-network healthcare providers and while the out-of-pocket expense may be higher, a POS will cover some of the expense.

Stay with us, these next three get a little confusing. All of the below accounts/arrangements work in tandem with a traditional health plan or high deductible health plan. All are tax deductible for the policy holder, employer or both – if being used for medical expenses.

  • HSA – Health Savings Account
    • This is an account used solely to save money that is used for future medical expenses. Part of your monthly premium contributes to the HSA but you, your family, or your employer can also contribute to the account. You must have a high deductible health plan to sign up for an HSA. These funds never expire – even if you change jobs, health plans, or retire.
    • If money is pulled out of this account for non-medical expenses, the amount must be included in the policy holder’s gross income on their tax return and may be subject to a tax penalty of 20%.
  • HRA – Health Reimbursement Arrangements
    • Unlike the HSA, a HRA is maintained by an employer on the policy holder’s behalf. This is a savings account used exclusively to generate funds to reimburse medical expenses. The employer contributes money into the fund and after paying a medical expense, policy holders submit documentation of the payment for reimbursement.
    • The employer determines a set budget for monthly reimbursements.
  • FSA – Flexible-Spending Account
    • FSA accounts are managed by the policy holder and they make regular contributions via paycheck deductions (which cannot exceed $2,850/year)
    • FSA funds typically cover a wider range of medical expenses and medications.
    • The funds in this account are typically a “use it or lose it,” meaning account holders must make use of the funds while it is active. Recent amendments have allowed employers to opt into allowing policy holders to roll over up to $500 of unused funds into the next year’s plan. If selecting this plan, pay close attention to the terms and conditions to see if your employer opted into this option.

The Student Health Insurance at Ohio State has a PPO coverage model. This means that students on the plan have access to a wide range of in-network providers and facilities in Franklin County while also having a large national network outside of the area available for coverage. One of the many benefits to attending Ohio State is access to a world renown medical center within walking distance to our campus.

As we head into a new year, make a wellness goal around staying up to date on preventative healthcare appointments. Check your plan and schedule your next doctor’s appointment for 2023!

As stated in our previous post, Ohio State students are required to hold some kind of health insurance. If you are an international student, you are required to sign up for insurance through the Student Health Insurance policy. If you are a domestic student enrolled in a degree program and enrolled in at least six (6) credit hours for undergraduates, at least four (4) credit hours for graduate and professional students and at least three (3) credit hours for post-candidacy doctoral students are automatically enrolled in this insurance plan. Domestic students have the option to withdraw from the Student Health Insurance plan if they have coverage elsewhere. For more information on Student Health Insurance visit the Student Health Insurance website and read their FAQs page for answers to common questions.


Health Insurance Literacy: Student Health Insurance (osu.edu)

Understanding Health Insurance (medicalbillingandcoding.org)

HSA vs. FSA vs. HRA – Healthcare Account Comparison (healthequity.com)


-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator

3 Time Management Techniques to get you Through the End of the Semester

Spring break is over and now the race to finals week has begun. With only 5 weeks left in the semester, many of you are probably feeling the pressure of the numerous impending deadlines.

Practicing self-care in the next few weeks is more important than ever. Taking time to eat balanced meals, engage in physical activity, and getting plenty of sleep should be at the top of your to-do list along with all of the other tasks.

But how can you make time to take care of yourself when you don’t even feel like you have enough time for all the other tasks on the to-do list?? Read on for 3 time management techniques to get you through the end of the semester.

  1. Prioritize Tasks – make a list of everything that you have coming up in the next few weeks and label them as urgent, important, or not important. This includes anything related to academics, work, family, and friend time.
    • Urgent – these are tasks that need to get done right away, anything with a deadline.
    • Important – tasks that are important and meaningful to you but do not necessarily have a deadline.
    • Not important – tasks that don’t really need to get done and that are not important to you.

This visual of tasks can be helpful in seeing where all of your time is spent. Do you have a lot of not important tasks in your schedule? If so, it might be time to rethink how you accept commitments. Turning down not important tasks can help to free up time for more important items. Especially as you prepare for the end of the semester.

  1. Control Procrastination – the most stressful or unpleasant tasks are the ones that you are most likely to put off and this will only increase as deadlines approach. Try the following techniques to combat procrastination:
    • Structure time – using the prioritized task list you just created, schedule out structured working time using a format that works best for you: day planner, outlook calendar, desk calendar, etc. Find the best fit and stick to it.
    • Break up larger tasks – learn your working style and plan accordingly. IF you know that you will not be able to sit and work for 3 hours straight on a paper break it up into shorter 1-hour blocks throughout the day to help break up the unpleasant task.
    • Create short-term deadlines – We have 5 weeks left in the semester, now is the time to build in shorter deadlines to break up the larger tasks. If you have a 20 page paper due during finals week, break up that task into writing at least 5 pages per week until the end of the semester. This will give you plenty of time to do your best, without rushing to get it done at the end.
    • Avoid perfectionism – Use these strategies to give yourself enough time to do your best.
  1. Manage Commitments – be reasonable and realistic with the time you have and manage your commitments by saying yes when it is important and saying no when you need to.

Being realistic with your time as we near the end of the semester can help to alleviate some of the pressure and stress. Managing your time appropriately can help to provide you with some much needed free time for self-care while also giving yourself enough time to do well in your academics.

For additional support, check out the Student Life Student Wellness Center’s Wellness Coaching program and the Dennis Learning Center’s Academic Coaching program.

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator

Navigating Nutrition Labels

Do you ever go to the grocery store and get completely overwhelmed by the information on a nutrition label? How are you supposed to eat healthy if you don’t even know what you are looking at? Or you skip reading them altogether?

Not to fear, we have a quick guide below for navigating those nutrition labels, including what to look for and what to avoid.

According to the Mayo Clinic, you want to look at 4 main points: serving size, how many calories in one serving, % (percent) daily value, and the ingredients list.

Starting with the serving size. Products and food items that you may think are only one serving (like a ramen noodle packets, a bottle of juice, pints of ice cream, etc), may sneakily have more servings than you think. For example, one pint of Ben and Jerry’s has 3 servings. Check out the serving size at the top of the nutrition label to see how many are in food items and try to stick to one serving.

Now that you know how many servings is in the food item, you can check the total number of calories. The Mayo Clinic goes on to state that 40 calories is low, 100 calories is moderate, and 400 or more per serving size is high. Remember based on the serving amount, the total calories may need to be multiplied based on how much you consume.

Check with your doctor or a dietitian for more specific information on how many calories you should be consuming daily based on your age, sex, height, weight, overall health and physical activity level.

Next, look closely at the % (percent) daily value. This is the percentage of daily value each nutrient has in the serving of food. These are typically based off a 2,000 calorie per day diet. The % daily value shows how much that particular food and nutrient contributes to a total daily diet. And helps you to determine if a serving is high or low in a specific nutrient. General guidelines for % daily value if a nutrient has 5% or less per serving, this is considered low. If a nutrient has 20% or more per serving, this is considered high.

General rule, try to choose foods that are higher in % daily value of fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium. And lower in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.

Lastly, review the ingredients list. Ingredients are listed by volume, meaning the higher up on the ingredients list the more of that item there is in your food. Try to avoid foods that have sugar listed as the first ingredient, this includes sugar going by other names such as high-fructose corn syrup, dehydrated cane juice, and more.

Bonus tips: watch out for ‘added sugars.’ The  ‘total sugars’ lists the total number of sugars in the food product, both naturally occurring and those added during processing. If you are watching your sugar intake, watch out for the added sugars we see in a lot of products. Check the allergens list. Under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, companies are required to list a ‘contains’ statement near the ingredients list and advisory statements for addressing potential cross-contamination associated with the 8 major food allergens – milk, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, wheat, eggs, and soybeans. If you are someone that struggles with food allergies, pay close attention to these statements.

For more support in your nutrition needs, check out some of the free and low cost support services on our campus, such as the Student Wellness Center’s Nutrition Coaching, Student Life Dining Service’s Nutrition and Wellness team and Wilce Student Health Center’s Nutrition Therapy services.

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator


How To Read Nutrition Labels (mayoclinic.org)

How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label | FDA

Understanding Food Labels | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Improving Mental Health and Connection Through Volunteering

If you are looking for an activity to improve your mental health, connect with others who have similar interests and make a difference your community, look no further than volunteering!

Studies show that regularly volunteering has a positive impact on our mental and physical health and strengthens our social connections.

Not only does volunteering counteract the effects of stress, anger, anxiety and depression but it also makes you overall happier and can increase your self-confidence. It is in our nature as human beings to want to give to others. Sharing our talents and passions in our community through volunteering helps to give us all the feels and fulfills that natural instinct to want to help others. The more we give, ultimately, the better we feel.

Another positive effect to highlight is that volunteering helps to build both your personal and professional network. Shared experiences help to create and strengthen social connections and by participating in a volunteer activity you are connecting with others who also share a common interest. This is a great way to make friends and to create networks. If you are looking to break into a specific industry or have a particular passion you want to explore, volunteering is an opportunity to try out new experiences. You never know who you are going to meet and what it could potentially lead to!

As you can see, there are so many benefits to volunteering, but it can be challenging to find the time, the right organization and position. As a busy college student, you already have so many responsibilities, it can be hard to know where to start. Luckily, Ohio State has a team of dedicated staff and students that organize numerous opportunities to volunteer in the Central Ohio community, across the country, and even internationally.

Check out the Student Life Leadership and Community Engagement team’s website for information on volunteer opportunities.

So what are you passionate about? Find your cause, find your team, and get to work!

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator


3 health benefits of volunteering – Mayo Clinic Health System

Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits – HelpGuide.org

Practicing Mindfulness Throughout the Day

Mindfulness has become a buzz word in a lot of health and wellness circles. We see this idea of mindfulness online, in classrooms, on tv, in ads…it is basically everywhere. But what is ‘mindfulness’ exactly?

There are lots of ways to define mindfulness but what it comes down to is being fully present in the moment, aware of both your surroundings and how you are feeling.

Mindfulness is the opposite of multitasking, it is practicing focus and awareness throughout our days, and giving ourselves time to process our emotions and feelings. Practicing mindfulness on a regular basis can have many positive benefits to both our physical and mental health. This includes decreased depression, increased emotional regulation, reduced anxiety and stress, better memory and concentration, improved sleep, and more.

When we think of what mindfulness is, it can be easy to generalize this concept into thinking of yoga, meditation, mantras, or breathing exercises. And while all of these things can and do support the idea of living mindfully, they are not for everyone. Below you will find some simple changes that we can make in our daily routines to practice mindfulness throughout the day.

Morning Routine:

  • What is the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you immediately reach for your phone? If your answer is yes, you are not alone. Research shows that 1 in 4 Americans reach for their phone less than a minute after waking up. Instead give your body and brain a chance to wake up! Take this time for a mindful moment and check in with yourself – Do you feel well rested? Are you hungry or thirsty? How are you feeling emotionally about the day?

Bedtime Routine:

  • We’ve all heard about how blue light can impact our ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and get quality sleep. Replace screens and TV with gentle stretching and give our brain a chance to actually relax before heading to bed. Try reading a book or magazine rather than doomscrolling until you fall asleep with your phone in your hand.


  • Meals are a time to connect with others and fuel our bodies. But with busy daily schedules, it can be easy to grab something processed and eat on the go. When planning out your weekly schedule, set aside time eat day to eat balanced meals. And take the time to enjoy the food as well as the company around you.
  • Practice intuitive eating – pay attention to what your body needs, are you hungry or full? Are you enjoying your meal? Really pay attention to the taste, textures, and smells of your food.


  • A large part of mindfulness is being present in the moment. In our interactions throughout the day, try to practice active listening skills. Be fully present when listening to others and listen to understand rather than to respond.

Mindfulness While You Wait:

  • While you are waiting in the dining line, waiting for an exam to begin, or waiting at the bus stop, practice mindfulness. Rather than jumping on your phone for a quick distraction, instead take a few deep breaths and notice your surroundings. Give your brain a break from being in front of screen and connect with those around you.

Build in time for Joyful Movement:

  • Being mindful means intentionality in our actions. Building in time for movement in your day can increase productivity and attention, even a short walk around the building can make a difference!
  • When finding time for movement in your day remove the idea of ‘should.’ This places exercise and movement onto the list of chores rather than an activity that brings us joy. Instead listen to what your body needs and find the movement that feels right to you in that moment.

This is not an exhaustive list of all the ways you can build mindfulness into your day. But it is a good start! Challenge yourself to try one or two of the above strategies. Notice how you feel and what kinds of changes it brings about.

If you are looking for additional support in incorporating mindfulness into your routine, schedule an appointment with the Student Wellness Center’s Wellness Coaching team.

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator


What are the benefits of mindfulness? (apa.org)

Mindfulness exercises – Mayo Clinic

Survey: 1 in 4 adults checks phone less than a minute after waking up – Study Finds