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)

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


5 Tips for Fact Checking Health Content Online

Technology is an amazing thing. 24/7/365, you have information available at the tips of your fingers. Which is helpful when trying to find information related to your health or the health of a loved one.

Whether you are searching on Google, YouTube, Reddit, TikTok or another social media platform, the challenge is to find a reliable source for the information you seek.

Billions of people use social media each day for news, information, to connect socially with others. And all of these users are contributing to the unimaginable amount of content being uploaded every minute.

Some of this content is valuable and helpful but the accessibility of the internet has created a platform for users to post information that is misleading or just not true. Social media gives everyone a voice to post whatever information they want, no expertise required.

Have you ever watched a TikTok and thought to yourself, “Is this statement/statistic/fact true?” You are not alone, and this critical thinking skill will help with fact checking the information you are consuming online. Read the below tips for finding reliable information online:

  1. Check the web address

Who owns the website or social media page and who is responsible for posting content? Read thoroughly to determine who the owner is and their credibility. In general, you can find trusted health content on both government (.gov) and university/college (.edu) websites. Non-profit groups (.org) can also provide reliable health information. But .org web addresses can be tricky because .org can be used by both for-profit and non-profit businesses.

  1. Determine the purpose

Determine what kind of account and post you are looking at, is this someone’s personal opinion, an advertisement, a news report? For websites, go to the “About Us” page and do some reading. This page will explain the purpose of the website, which should be able to provide education and awareness. If the purpose is to promote a product or service, the health information may not be reliable.

Social media influencers posting health advice are generally not a qualified professional, fact check their post against a credible source to get the full story.

  1. Assess the evidence

Just because something is viral or has a high number of likes, shares, and comments does not make it accurate or true. Websites and social media pages posting health facts or figures should provide solid evidence of that content. They might cite published, peer-reviewed articles or other sources to learn more information. If they don’t cross check the information with another reliable source.

  1. Assess the reviewer

When was this information reviewed last? Websites should state who reviewed the health information it presents; it will list the person’s medical credentials (such as MD or RN).

Does the social media post direct you back to where they found this information or what medical professional they are referencing? If not, cross check the information.

  1. Check the date

Websites with health content will list when this content was last updated or reviewed to ensure accuracy. Make sure this date is recent because health information needs to be current.

When finding information online, use your critical thinking skills to find reliable sources to help inform your health decisions. For more information, visit the National Institutes of Health – how to Evaluate Health Information on the Internet webpage.


-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator

Are You Scamming Me? How to Spot a Scam Email in Seconds

We are connected all day every day. Through text, social media, and email we are constantly getting bombarded with information and communication. With all of these avenues to connect, there also comes more opportunities for scam attempts by someone looking to take advantage.

Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to determine if an email or text is a scam.

Digital Security Company, Aura, provides the quick following questions to ask to spot a scam communication in seconds. When looking at a suspicious email ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you know the sender?
  • Is this an unsolicited email from someone claiming to work for an organization like the FBI or IRS?
  • Is the sender asking for sensitive information like personal details or financial information?
  • Is the subject link strange, with unusual punctuation and characters?
  • Does the sender’s email address and “from” name match? (You can hover over or click on their name to reveal their email address.)
  • Is the sender’s email from a suspicious domain name? (i.e. ebay-support.com)
  • Is the email asking you to click on a link, open a cloud storage document, or download a file?
  • Is the sender using urgent or threatening language to get you to act?
  • Is the entire email embedded on an image or iframe?
  • Are there any grammatical or spelling errors in the email?
  • Is the offer in the email too good to be true?

Taking a few seconds after receiving a suspicious email or text, can make a big difference.

If you do spot scam communication –

Practicing smart technology privacy and security can improve your personal digital wellness. For more support check out the Student Life Student Wellness Center’s Digital Wellness information page and the Office of Technology and Digital Innovation’s IT for Students page.

If you are the victim of a scam, contact Student Legal Services for free and/or low-cost legal support.


How To Tell If An Email Is From a Scammer [With Examples] | Aura

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator

Phubbing is an Uncool Norm: 3 Simple Strategies to be More Present with Others

Picture this: you are sitting at dinner with your friends after a long day of classes, when all of a sudden you look up and everyone at the table is staring at their phones – not talking. Everyone is ignoring one another to consume whatever is on their device.  The digital wellness community refers to this phenomenon as phubbing.

Phubbing is defined by the Digital Wellness Institute as, “the practice of ignoring one’s companion(s), in order to pay attention to one’s phone or other mobile device.”

If you find yourself doing this frequently throughout the day, you are not alone. Studies show that 48% of people report phubbing others 2-3 times or more per day. And 56% indicate that they are phubbed 2-3 times or more per day.

Phubbing has a negative impact on our relationships and even our mental health, with phubbing causing feelings of exclusion and rejection. Phubbing causes us to have less meaningful conversations with others and those who phub come off as less polite and attentive.

While our phones are a great social tool to connect with others who are not physically nearby, technology is putting a divide in the face-to-face interactions we have with others. And we are normalizing it in our community.

To make a change for more meaningful relationships, conversations and overall interactions. Prioritize these three easy steps in your daily routine.

  1. Practice mindfulness. A lot of people assume mindfulness is just meditation, but it is so much more than that! We all have the opportunity to move through our day mindfully. This means paying attention and being fully present in the moment with ourselves and others aka not checking our phone in the middle of a conversation. Embrace all of your senses and really take notice of your surrounding environment: who is with you, what are you hearing, seeing, etc. what are your emotions in this moment?
  2. Set technology free boundaries with friends and family. When getting together with family and friends, vocalize that you would like this to be a technology free hang out. If necessary, put phones in another room to focus on spending quality time with one another.
  3. Call out phubbing when you see it and apologize when you do it. Tell your family and friends that you are making the conscious effort to be more present in your interactions. Call them out when they are on their phones and tell them to do the same to you! If you notice yourself phubbing, no need to be hard on yourself, apologize and do better moving forward.

Set this goal, enjoy the memories you are making rather than focusing on the instagrammable moments or what others are doing. Be more present in your interactions and celebrate the positive impacts it has on your relationships, conversations, and overall interactions.

If you feel like you need help separating yourself from your devices, seek help at one of the many support resources on campus. For mild or moderate concerns visit the Student Life Student Wellness Center’s Wellness Coaching program or for more severe concerns visit a team member at Counseling and Consultation Service.


Digital Wellness Institute

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator

You, Me, and Technology: How to Navigate the Uninvited 3rd Wheel in Our Relationships

Technology has brought about amazing tools to connect and foster relationships with those who are not physically nearby. With so many new options for communication such as text messaging, email, social media and video calls, you have the opportunity to connect with people all over the world.

The advancement of technology has undoubtedly provided benefits to how we start and sustain our interpersonal relationships.

Technology is quickly becoming the norm in how a lot of our relationships begin. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 1 in 5 relationships and 1 in 6 marriages begin online. With nearly 8,000 dating sites in the world, it is easy to see how this number will only continue to grow.

Friendships, romantic relationships, even how you interact with your family has shifted and changed because of the presence of technology. Our interactions now are vastly different than those even just 20 years ago.

With this change in interaction and communication, there must also be a change in how we approach our relationships. Technology plays a role and, unfortunately, for some, it can cause conflict and divide. The amount of social media use, how much is being shared online, and jealousy can all create problems within a relationship.

One issue technology can create is distance in relationships. Whether you are not having deep conversations face to face or are choosing to hide behind a text to express feelings, neither is beneficial in developing a relationship built on open communication and honesty.

By communicating expectations and setting clear boundaries, you can create a more supportive environment for your relationship to thrive. Some examples of topics to discuss and boundaries to potentially put in place:

  • Putting the devices away at mealtime.
  • Setting clear expectations for how public or private do you want to be online.
  • Exploring instances of jealousy – if you feel drawn to checking in on your partners social media and feel jealous of their interactions. Explore where your insecurities are and communicate your needs to your partner.
  • Leaving your phones in another room when going to bed
  • Allocating certain times throughout the day to be ‘phone-free time’ – phone free dates is also a great idea!
  • Don’t get out your phone from your pocket/backpack/bag as soon as you get to your destination. If it never leaves your bag there is less
  • temptation to look at it. Exception here – if you are letting someone know you arrived safely, but then put it away!

When you are sitting on your devices instead of interacting, you are not enjoying shared experiences which can help to foster and build relationships. To remedy this, find activities to enjoy together, i.e. instead of playing games on your devices while sitting in the same room, get out a board game and play together. This is just one example, there are lots of opportunities to enjoy a shared experience on campus. Visit the Student Activities website to view their events calendar and plan your tech-free date/hang out for spring semester!

Ohio State, including Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service, has relationship related resources.

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator

Photo by Jo McCulty

5 Tips for Navigating Studying in the Digital Era 

It seems like in today’s world everything revolves around technology in some way or another. One area that has been completely revamped is the academic field. In the last few years, students have had to completely rethink the way they go about their academics due to online classes and zoom meetings brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Reliance on technology for studying can come with many unwanted distractions, so make sure to check out these five simple tips for improving your digital wellness.  

First off, do your best to remove all unnecessary devices from your study space.  

Research shows that even if you resist the temptation to check your phone, the thought alone that a notification might come in can lower your productivity. Putting your phone somewhere out of reach is the best way to ensure that it will not be a distraction.  

Completely removing your cellphone is certainly no easy task. If you are struggling with the idea, make sure to put your phone on silent and do not disturb mode. This will make sure that you will not be tempted to check your phone after hearing a notification come in.  

Looking at your phone for even a split second could be harmful to your productivity. Studies have found that after picking up your phone the first time, you have a 50 percent chance of picking it up again within the new few minutes. Try only checking your phone during designated breaks.  

That brings us to the next tip, creating a study schedule. Designating time for active studying and separate time for taking breaks will make sure you stay on track.  

One study schedule to try the Pomodoro study method. This method consists of choosing a total amount of time that you want to dedicate to studying and then breaking that time down into separate Pomodoro sessions. Each Pomodoro will consist of actively studying for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break. After completing 4 Pomodoro sessions, give yourself a longer break of about 20-30 minutes.  

Along with following a set study schedule, ensuring that your study space is well organized can be crucial to staying productive. One tip for setting up your space is to use the CLEAR method. 

  1. Step one is to clear your desk of anything that you will not need while studying.  
  2. Step two is lifting your computer up to avoid tension.  
  3. Step three involves eliminating all distractions.  
  4. Step four is to activate one designated study space in your living area. 
  5. Step five is refreshing your study space by adding a natural element such as a plant.  

Are you finding yourself getting tired of your current study space? Switch it up! Studying in the same spot everyday can get tiring fast so make sure to explore all the different study spaces Ohio State has to offer.  

Finally, remember that not everything about electronics is harmful to a productive study session. There are so many ways to put those electronics to good use! Take some time to explore the thousands of studying apps that exist, check out online planners and calendars that can help you stay organized and on schedule, and find ways to connect with others on Zoom for digital study sessions.  


-Kayla Miedrzynski, Body Project Student Assistant


How to Make the Internet a More Positive Place: 5 Steps to Clean Up Your Social Media 

Have you ever been scrolling through social media and noticed a sudden shift in your mood? Have the posts you have seen make you feel worse about yourself? If so, you are not alone. 

Many of us experience feelings of self-doubt after spending time on our social media accounts. Maybe you feel envious of the perfect lives others seem to be living, or you start to wish your body looked more like those of popular celebrities and influences.  

Whatever the case may be, there are many aspects of social media that can harm our mental wellbeing, especially when it comes to body image.  

A recent study found that “thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.” Facebook also found that fourteen percent of boys in the United States said Instagram made them feel worse about themselves.  

As social media is becoming more popular and we are spending more time on it each day, it is important to make sure it is not something that brings you down. Making sure this time spent online leads to a positive mindset is key to your overall wellbeing. 

One way to move towards this mindset is to complete a cleanse of your social media accounts. Doing this can make sure that time spent online helps you move towards a healthy lifestyle.  

Here are a few ways to complete a social media cleanse of your own:  

  1. Set your intentions.  
    • Think about the reasons why you use your different social media accounts. Do you enjoy talking to friends and family? Finding a new restaurant to try out? Learn something new? Make a list of these reasons and remember them when considering whether to follow or unfollow an account. If an account does not match up with one of your intentions, unfollow it! 
  2. Remove negative accounts . 
    • Look out for specific pages or people to unfollow if they tend to post content that makes you feel bad about yourself. Focus on your reaction to looking at what that account posts. If it tends to be negative, it may be time to let that account go.  
  3. Explore new content. 
    • Social media is a great resource for finding wellness content, especially about body image. The body positivity movement has become a major trend over the last few years and there are a ton of creators that specialize in creating body acceptance content. Make sure to explore accounts and hashtags recommend for you to help you find new creators to follow.  
  4. Utilize all the platforms features. 
    • Most social media platforms have some way to limit the posts that you see from certain accounts. Take some time to look into features such as muting certain accounts, turning off comments, and hiding likes. All of these can make social media a more positive space by removing some of the stress that comes along with using it.  
  5. Take a break from social media all together. 
    • Try limiting the time you spend on social media each day and exploring different ways to pass the time. There are so many ways to increase your physical and mental health by staying offline such as spending time outdoors, trying a new activity with friends, or even completing tasks on your to-do list.


-Kayla Miedrzynski, Body Project Student Assistant

Nothing Better than a Day of Online School

Okay I get it, online school may not be your vibe, but I do have a few tips and tricks to make it a little more bearable and help make sure that your productivity levels are a bit higher than before.  

First off, try and set an alarm for a relatively early time. I’m not saying wake up at 6 am every morning, but try and aim for before 11 (I’m giving some leeway here). This can help set up a routine for your mind and body.  

Secondly, start a morning routine. This can look like waking up and immediately going to make your coffee then reading a few pages of a book, but try not to include any electronics in this morning routine. Your entire day is about to be you staring at a screen, so give your eyes a bit of a break. Let your morning routine be about you time. This is the time to relax and wake up your brain to help prepare for the day ahead.   

Now you want to have a designated workspace, but please do not have it be in your bed. That is not a place to be doing work, that is a place for you to sleep. Use a desk or set up a nice comfortable spot somewhere other than the bed you just woke up from. Make sure that this space is clean and organized (trust me, this helps immensely). Throw up some decorations around your workspace, make it look festive and happy. If it’s a nice day outside, set up a spot out there and get some fresh air while you are working! 

Some of you may have heard of this but try out the pomodoro method when you are studying. If you don’t know what this is, it is basically a study method where you study for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break, and repeat this. At the end of an hour, you are supposed to take a ten-minute break. There have been multiple studies on this to show its efficiency, and I can personally attest that I absolutely love this way of studying.  

Lastly, fuel your body! Get up and moving. Go for a walk! Make sure to eat. Just because you’re sitting in a chair for most of the day doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to eat. Your body needs the nourishment and it is necessary for you to do well in online school. Honor your body, by fueling it with nourishing foods, but also by the foods you crave! 

Here are some articles with a few more tips and tricks: 

Dani Blumenfeld 

Navigating Dating Apps in the Age of COVID-19 

The COVID-19 pandemic has halted a lot of things, but not everyone is letting it halt their search for a boo or a casual fling. Dating and hookup apps have risen in popularity in the past few years, and the new norms around social distancing and staying at home brought by the pandemic have made it more difficult to meet someone in person. Many college students use apps like Tinder and Bumble to look for anything from a no-strings-attached hookup to a potential long-term partner. While these apps are familiar to a lot of college students, the unspoken rules of interacting with others through the platforms have changed in the era of COVID-19. Here are some tips for navigating dating and hookup apps in these crazy times. 

Know the Risks  

You likely already know that coming into close contact with someone puts you at risk for spreading or contracting COVID-19. Knowing this, you can decide which activities you’d be comfortable with while on a date or during a hookup and which you’d rather avoid. Virtual dates over FaceTime or Zoom are a great, no-risk option for getting to know somebody. If it’s important to you to meet up in person, staying outdoors throughout the date can be a great way to lower your risk. Things like going on a hike, picnicking at a park, or getting lunch at a restaurant with outdoor seating can allow you to have a fun in-person date with lower risk. Bumble even has a feature for users that allows you to specify in your profile whether you’re comfortable with virtual dates only or in-person dates with or without a mask.  

Keep Open Communication 

Everyone’s comfort levels and the risks they’re willing to take are different, so it’s important to communicate openly and honestly with a potential partner and ask them what they are comfortable with. For example, if you and someone you’ve met on a dating app are planning to meet in person but you would be more comfortable if you both wore masks, let them know ahead of time and gauge their reaction. If they’re resistant to the idea, they may not be the best fit for you right now. Even though it may seem awkward, it’s also a good idea to talk about how far the two of you are willing to go physically, taking the pandemic into account. 

Treat COVID-19 like an STI 

If you and someone you’ve met decide you want to hook up, treat COVID-19 similarly to how you’d treat a sexually transmitted infection (STI). If you both test negative and then stay at home and watch for symptoms up until meeting, you’ll feel more at ease and be at a lower risk of transmitting the virus to one another. Talking about where you’ve been and who you’ve been in contact with recently is also important. And while it might seem forward, you should make sure you’re on the same page about whether or not the two of you are seeing other people, which could increase your risk.  

Sex and romance during a pandemic can seem scary, and if you’re just not feeling it right now, that’s totally okay. But if you really want to get out there and meet new people, have fun and stay safe!  

– Sara Kleine, Safer Sex Wellness Ambassador