Positive Technology: A Growing Market With a Potential to Rebuild a Resilient Society During and After the COVID-19 Crisis

Positive Technology: A Growing Market With a Potential to Rebuild a Resilient Society During and After the COVID-19 Crisis

Anuragini Shirish
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7263-4.ch012
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Given the crucial need to bridge the mental health service divide, the author examines the emerging trends in digital well-being management by focusing on the mobile health market. Using a bottom-up perspective and leveraging literature from positive technology and generalized unsafety theory of stress, the author conceptualizes how positive technology as a mobile health solution can help end users to respond effectively to different kinds of stressors during a crisis. It is further argued that the use of positive technology can positively reverse the automatic route to mental ill health that is plausible in the absence of safety perceptions. The chapter offers a theory-driven conceptualization of digital coping through positive technology. By showing how a simple, scalable, and sustainable positive technology design can cater to different user segments, the author urges policymakers, entrepreneurs, and healthcare service providers to participate in the design, propagation, adoption, and diffusion of such holistic positive technologies for fostering societal resilience.
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The crisis and its associated management strategies that involve quarantines and lockdowns has affected how individuals can cope with this pandemic at the physical, social, emotional and spiritual levels. Individuals find the need to preserve the old and they may need to adapt to the new normal (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). In either way, individuals would resort to sense making mechanisms to cope with the imminent impact of the pandemic on their life and that of their loved ones (Christianson & Barton, 2020). The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a “State of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHOa, 1948). The WHO expects elevated rates of stress or anxiety amongst the population: both the frontline workers, old people, people with prior health conditions and amongst public if there is a lack of access to basic services and if lock down measures continue (WHOb, 2020). Stress can be defined as the inability of a person to cope with internal or environmental demands. Stress is therefore not a stimulus or a reaction to a stimulus but it is a process of adaptation between a person and a specific environment (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Table 1 below depicts the current stress creating situation.

Table 1.
Dynamic and ongoing events affecting well-being during the COVID-19 crisis
Preservation of OldAdaptation to the New
Keep our usual routine goingAdjust to work-life conflict
Keep our activities goingAdjust to technology overload
Keep our livelihoods intactAdjust to the unknown threat to life

Source: Author

Although coping is an essential element to handle adversities, there are differences between coping and resilience (Fletcher & Sarkar 2013). In this study, we follow the view that resilience relates to positive adaptation despite the presence of risk or adversity; it has both protective and promote factors encapsulated in the notion of a trait and a process (Fletcher & Sarkar 2013; Sarkar & Hilton, 2013). Recent study defines resilience as “the role of mental processes and behavior in promoting personal assets and protecting an individual from the potential negative effect of stressors” (Fletcher & Sarkar, 2013, p. 16). Further, individual and collective resilience can be built over time (Sarkar & Hilton, 2020).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Holistic Positive Technology: A kind of positive technology that is conceived for a wider population undergoing varying stressors or suffering from chronic stress, aimed at simultaneously improving physical, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being levels. It can be seen in digital tools or services that rely on techno-spiritual designs such as those found in the application called ‘HeartsApp’ which is posited to enhance the resilience of individuals, and societies in a reliable manner by instilling a sense of safety perception amongst the users of this application.

Technostress: The inability of an individual to cope with technology related demands in the environment. The demands may be perceived as techno-overload, techno-uncertainties, techno-insecurity, techno-invasion, and techno-complexity.

Stress: It is the inability of a person to cope with internal or environmental demands. It can be chronic, in the form of generalized perception of unsafety that is always present only to be dis-inhibited by safety perceptions. It can also take the acute form, when it is triggered by specific stressors.

Coping Self-Efficacy: An individual’s or collective’s ability to undertake the process of adaptation to stressors present in the environment or to chronic stress situation. It can be developed through prior experiences of successful adaptations that gave rise to an intermittent or prolonged sense of safety perceptions.

Digital Self-Management: Voluntary use of digital tools and services as a supplement, complement, or as a substitute for health services with an intention to increase one’s health and well-being.

Resilience: Resilience relates to positive adaptation despite the presence of risk or adversity, it can be both protective and promotive. It can be undertaken individually or collectively.

Mobile Health: Mobile Health or mHealth is an integral part of eHealth, which refers to the cost-effective and secure use of information and communication technologies, including mobile phones and wearables in support of health and health-related fields.

Positive Technology: It is a scientific and applied approach for improving the quality of our personal experience using digital goods and services with the goal of increasing wellness, generating strengths and resilience in individuals, organizations, and society.

Digital Health: The term digital health refers to both eHealth and mHealth (e.g. telemedicine, electronic health records and wearable sensors) as well as developing areas such as the use of advanced computing sciences in the fields of big data and artificial intelligence, robotic dedicated towards health services.

Well-Being: A state of complete health at physical, mental, spiritual, and social levels.

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