Digital well-being under pandemic conditions: catalysing a theory of online flourishing

Matthew J. Dennis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


The COVID-19 pandemic has catalysed what may soon become a permanent digital transition in the domains of work, education, medicine, and leisure. This transition has also precipitated a spike in concern regarding our digital well-being. Prominent lobbying groups, such as the Center for Humane Technology (CHT), have responded to this concern. In April 2020, the CHT has offered a set of ‘Digital Well-Being Guidelines during the COVID-19 Pandemic.’ These guidelines offer a rule-based approach to digital well-being, one which aims to mitigate the effects of moving much of our lives online. The CHT’s guidelines follow much recent interest in digital well-being in the last decade. Ethicists of technology have recently argued that character-based strategies and redesigning of online architecture have the potential to promote the digital well-being of online technology users. In this article, I evaluate (1) the CHT’s rule-based approach, comparing it with (2) character-based strategies and (3) approaches to redesigning online architecture. I argue that all these approaches have some merit, but that each needs to contribute to an integrated approach to digital well-being in order to surmount the challenges of a post-COVID world in which we may well spend much of our lives online.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-445
Number of pages11
JournalEthics and Information Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Digital well-being
  • Human flourishing
  • Pandemics


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