New Year, New Me(dia)

digital citizenship digital footprint & identity digital safety digital well-being Mar 27, 2024
New Year, New Me(dia)

By Elliot Nelson - Seasonal Public Relations Intern | Digital4Good


2024 had finally arrived, and I was excitedly brainstorming my New Year’s resolutions, etching out broad plans to improve my friendships, exercise regimen, and diet, when I recognized a problem: these were the same resolutions I had made last year, the year before that, and so on.


I decided to revisit my resolutions to identify specific, actionable strategies I could implement to make my resolutions a reality. Interestingly, media usage was a common thread in the lifestyle choices that needed changing.


Media plays a huge role in the health, financial, and social decisions we make. By learning to filter the media you consume, you can make substantial improvements to your lifestyle — in the new year and beyond. 


Healthy Habits

One of the biggest problems I identified was my alarmingly high screen time. An EducationWeek article provided a rationale for my frequent scrolling, explaining that device use rose exorbitantly during the pandemic due to the rise of remote schooling. 


Looking back, it’s plain to see that my unhealthy screen time habits took root during the pandemic. Screen time had become a fixed part of my schedule, making it difficult to cut down. Fortunately, after identifying the problem and the reason behind it, I could find achievable solutions.


I placed time limits on all of my social media apps, which cannot be overridden, even at times when I might deem the bypassing “necessary.” I also cleared my phone of any apps, especially games, that took up large amounts of my time. Finally, I switched the color scheme of my phone to black-and-white, inspired by the New York Times’ argument that color incentivizes us to spend more time on our phones.


While these solutions may seem drastic to you, the important thing is finding a personalized, realistic solution that works for you. Take parts of my strategy and filter in changes where necessary. The key word here is “realistic.” Create a resolution that effectively changes your screen time habits while being feasible for you to execute. 


Measuring Yourself by Marketing  

Now that I had tackled my screen time habits, it was time to look even further into how media consumption affected my life. The three areas most impacted by media use were financial, health/body image, and social. I realized that media marketing in particular played a large role.



When most people hear the word “marketing,” their first thought is finance, and with good reason. Media is used to make money for external entities, and marketing is designed to alter your financial habits. However, what many people may not realize is just how much media is designed for marketing purposes. Forbes illustrates how a whopping 77% of online content is made for financial gain by its producer.


Media marketing incentivizes purchases through pop-up ads, email discounts, and other online content — and it works. Last year, I spent money on media-advertised products at least once a month, if not more. However, it was time for a solution.


I decided upon the following strategy: Every time a product grabbed my attention, I would write it down or take a picture. I would then revisit the product the next day to see if it was still of interest. If it was, I would wait another day to reevaluate it. If I was still interested the second day, I would order the product. This strategy eliminates the pressure to purchase a visually appealing product right away.


Cut down on impulse purchases by using strategies like the ones brainstormed by the experts at BusinessInsider.


Health and Body Image

An unconscious effect of media marketing is a simulated “reality” of the blueprint for healthy bodies and lifestyles. However, the truth is that these advertised lifestyles oftentimes promote an unrealistic representation of how one should look. Harvard University illustrates the danger of believing in these beauty standards, pointing to economic and mental health decreases.


Before creating my new resolutions, I would watch countless “gym vlogs” featuring individuals with toned bodies indicative of the incredible time and effort they’d spent on themselves. However, I now recognize that the same lifestyle isn’t possible for me at this point in my life, and that comparing myself to these people will only make me feel worse about myself.


Every time I see a video or photo similar to the aforementioned vlogs, I take a second to appreciate the effort the creator spent to get to where they are currently. Then, I scroll away. Later on, when I’m at the gym or eating a meal, I recall the health or workout tips I learned from the video that are reasonable for me to achieve and put them into action. If the content isn’t conducive to positive or productive thinking, I intentionally switch my mindset from feeling inferior to simply doing what I need to feel fulfilled. 


Although this resolution is more abstract than the previous ones, it bears an important message. The new year is a chance to reflect on the reasoning behind your media habits and to pursue the things that make you feel fulfilled and happy. While only 10 to 20% of people stick to their New Year’s resolutions, making those changes is imperative for a better future.



When you boil it down, the purpose of media marketing is influencing users to make a change. Whether it’s incentivizing purchases or lifestyle changes, the social pressure of media requires an evaluation of how it affects you.


After revisiting my media usage, my final solution was a holistic analysis of how much of my actions, behaviors, and emotions were influenced by digital media. While it is impossible to grasp the full extent of the media’s impact, I can begin to combat some of the negative effects. The strategy for this is a combination of the previously mentioned ideas: routine check-ins with myself to ensure all of my actions are personally fulfilling and done for my own happiness.


New Year, New You!

As you progress through the new year, take time to consider the future you want as a reality and how your media usage affects that. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to make resolutions that are specific, achievable, and realistic. If they are too vague or too difficult to achieve, they will inevitably fail, like most of my previous New Year’s resolutions.


You deserve the best out of the new year! Find more articles about improving your digital habits on Digital4Good’s blog.




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