ESRC Digital Good Network


Digital well-being and everyday digital disconnection practices

A laptop wrapped in a chain and padlock.

This research project explores people’s everyday digital disconnection practices and experiences and the relationships between their digital well-being and disconnection practices through an inequalities and non-Western lens. The project seeks to generate insights into how digital disconnection and digital well-being intertwine.

In a rapidly evolving digital world, digital technologies are rooted in our daily lives. almost everything connects and is connected, making digital hyperconnectivity a “defining fact of our time” (Brubaker, 2020, p.771). Under such circumstances, concerns about overconnectivity and the always-online state have increased, as seen in studies on digital overuse, distractions, long screen time, technostress, etc. 

Meanwhile, digital disconnection (which refers to voluntarily imposing limits on one’s digital technology use) tends to be framed as a solution to the problems mentioned above. Digital disconnection relates to the notion of digital well-being, a term which is used to express the challenges that people encounter with the constantly connected, mediatised world (Vanden Abeele, 2021). This concept is widely used but its use differs across disciplines. As such, remains unclear and so needs further exploration. 


Shaoying Zhang, PhD student, Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield.

Professor Helen Kennedy, Professor of Digital Society, University of Sheffield.

Dr Ros Williams, Senior Lecturer in Digital Media and Society, University of Sheffield.

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