Ithra’s digital wellbeing report reveals rising global appetite for digital control

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The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) announced the findings of its second Digital Wellbeing Global Report as well as the inaugural launch of its Global Digital Wellbeing Index.

The Digital Wellbeing Global Report released on Sunday identifies unique insights on the fast-changing relationship of people with technology and how they aspire to gain more control over the digital realm. The Global Digital Wellbeing Index provides a country-level benchmark and a path to action for policymakers looking to improve digital wellbeing for the populations they serve.

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The basis of the new Digital Wellbeing Global Report is a survey of 35,000 respondents, all over 18 years of age, in 35 nations across five continents, more than double the number of participants in the first Digital Wellbeing Global Report in 2021.

Key findings

The findings of the refreshed survey provide unique insights under six relevant themes – Balance, AI, Social Media, Gaming, Work and Regulations.

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Among the key findings of the survey is more respondents of all ages across the globe are becoming conscious digital consumers, and a majority now spend the time they want to spend online, rather than losing hours to purposeless scrolling.

Global Digital Wellbeing Index

Ithra also announced the inaugural edition of the Global Digital Wellbeing Index (DWI), a country-level assessment which ranks 35 countries based on 94 selected indicators derived from policy analysis, statistical data, and survey results across 12 pillars. The index aims to help stakeholders find new evidence-based solutions to optimize opportunities and minimize potential negative impacts of digital technology.

The 12 pillars assessed are: Social cohesion; Mental health; Physical health; Ability to disconnect; Information quality; Cybersafety; Connectivity; Social connectedness; Education and skills; Work, productivity, and income; Entertainment and culture; and Access to services and goods. The research highlights leaders in each of the categories, as well as the areas where policymakers and businesses can focus their efforts.

Ithra’s DWI reveals that Canada leads the ranking in digital wellbeing followed by Australia, Singapore, Estonia, and France.

Within the 12 pillars, leadership and best practice emerge from different parts of the world. Examples include Saudi Arabia which excels in connectivity, China which has supportive policies for digital mental health in place and was a front runner in recognizing digital addiction, and Colombia, which is improving digital literacy and awareness for young women through dedicated programs. The pillars with the lowest scores requiring the most attention from almost all the income; Physical health; and the Ability to disconnect.

Announcing the findings, Wadha Alnafjan, Head of Digital Wellbeing (Sync) at Ithra, said: “Accelerating potential and inspiring minds is the core ethos of everything we do at Ithra. This deep data dive for this global survey reflects thousands of hours of hard work by several teams. In turn, this shows our collective passion, enabling us to better understand how talent and creativity can thrive at home and across international borders in a vastly digital era.”

She added: “These exclusive insights are especially important in today’s world, as we live in the most transformative time in modern human history – and technology is a primary driver of that change. Already, approximately 65 percent of the global population are online, equating to more than 5 billion people. The greater our understanding of our collective digital wellbeing today, the better we can maximize the benefits of these extraordinary technological capabilities as the decades unfold.”

Fahad AlBeyahi, Lead of Sync’s Research Workstream at Ithra, highlighted the importance of continual improvements: “The benefits of the hyper speed, convenience, and learnings we gain from embracing digitalization in our lives is nigh impossible to summarize. Equally, no system is perfect. Finding solutions to today’s challenges will present even more opportunities, so we must keep learning and exploring.”

He added: “Embedding digitalization into our lives brings endless potential, but also challenges that can be resolved with effective management. The survey highlighted negative and harmful experiences still prevalent across social media, calls for more regulation around artificial intelligence (AI), and for people to have greater transparency over data collection.”

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