Universität Zürich

IKMZ - Department of Communication and Media Research

Media Change & Innovation Division

Andreasstrasse 15
CH-8050 Zurich
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Everyday disconnection experiences: Exploring people’s understanding of digital well-being and management of digital media use


Nguyen, Minh Hao /

Büchi, Moritz /

Geber, Sarah

New Media & Society [Online first]. https://doi.org/10.1177/14614448221105428

With the permeation of digital media into all spheres of life, individual-level efforts to manage information abundance and constant availability have become more common. To date, information on the prevalence of the motivations and strategies for such disconnection practices and how different sociodemographic groups experience digital disconnection is scarce. We surveyed a national sample of 1163 Swiss Internet users in November 2020. Thematic coding of open-text responses demonstrated people’s understandings of “balanced digital media use” as primarily concerned with subjectively appropriate amounts of use, purposeful use, social connections, non-addiction, and time for “real life.” Through principal components analysis, we provide a classification of the types of motivations people have for disconnecting and strategies people use to disconnect. Persistent age differences suggest that life-span approaches to studying digital disconnection are imperative. We formulate implications for disconnection research in the context of digital inequality and provide an outlook for evolving digital habits in future digital societies.