UP experts join research on the impact of digital technologies on wellbeing

Illustrational photo: Pexels.com
Wednesday 14 February 2024, 13:00 – Text: Lenka Peřinová

Researchers from eight centres across the Czech Republic will investigate the impact of digital technologies on wellbeing, under the auspices of the DigiWELL project. A significant part of the activities will be carried out in Olomouc. The team around Michal Kalman from the UP STs Cyril and Methodius Faculty of Theology (UP CMFT), and the HBSC (Health Behaviour in School-aged Children) study will focus primarily on developing research activities in the international environment.

The multidisciplinary research responds to the growing interest in issues such as personal satisfaction, happiness, positive thinking, and quality of life – all of which are sometimes referred to as the “science of wellbeing”. This is further combined with another current challenge – digital technologies in societal life.

“We will focus on two main directions in Olomouc. The first concerns the development of an international scientific network and the publication of articles on wellbeing in both the European and global context. The second is about application, which means putting our research data back into practice,” says Michal Kalman from the Social Health Institute (OUSHI) at UP CMFT, principal investigator of the Olomouc part of the project.

Digital technologies, lifestyle, and ecological grief

Social networking, computer gaming, physical activity, sleep, risky behaviour, and energy drinks – these are just some of the topics that UP researchers have been working on for a long time. Newly, they will focus on other “trendy issues”, such as ecological grief.

“We consider it very important to look at the link between the use of technology and the mental health of society. Ecological or environmental grief is as much a part of the contemporary world as the iPhone and virtual reality. We want to know how this new phenomenon affects our younger generation and their mental wellbeing,” says Petr Baďura, the scientific leader of the Olomouc team from OUSHI, adding that the project results will be complemented by other interesting data. The research team of Aleš Gába from the UP Faculty of Physical Culture will contribute with its analyses of 24-hour movement behaviour and sleep in children and adolescents.

Data in newspapers, on social networks – and for politicians

The DigiWELL project also includes a strong applied component. In the social sciences, the efforts of the university project team primarily aim to transfer research results in a comprehensible and useful form to a “non-academic” audience, in the form of newspaper articles, expert interviews on TV, podcasts, etc.

“It doesn’t stop there. We specifically target many other groups – among them schools and teachers, but also politicians and multinational organisations such as WHO and UNICEF. We want our facts and findings to become a reliable basis for adjusting specific measures that would come into effect at the level of the state, regions, and municipalities," adds Radek Palaščák, a member of the DigiWELL application creative team.

The project Research of Excellence on Digital Technologies and Wellbeing is funded by the Johannes Amos Comenius Programme (P JAC) under the Excellence in Research call. The main investigator is the University of Ostrava; its partners are Palacký University Olomouc, Masaryk University, the University of Hradec Králové, the National Institute of Mental Health, and three institutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences: the Institute of Psychology, Institute of Sociology, and Institute of Computer Science. More information is available here.


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