Digitalisation Anxiety*

Before engaging in digital nudging activities, it’s essential to focus on teachers’ attitudes towards digital teaching tools and to foster positive “digital mindsets.” In today’s fast-paced digital world, many teachers are experiencing what experts call “digitalisation anxiety.” This unease, brought about by the rapid introduction of new technologies, can significantly impact educators’ well-being and effectiveness in the classroom. Understanding digitalisation anxiety is the first step in mitigating its effects and fostering a supportive environment for educators.

What is Digitalisation Anxiety?

Digitalisation anxiety is defined as a tense and unsettling anticipation related to new technologies and their integration into daily life. Unlike general technology stress, digitalisation anxiety encompasses both the content and process of adopting new technologies. It affects not just how information is presented and processed, but also how people communicate, work, and live.

Triggers of Digitalisation Anxiety

Digitalisation anxiety can be triggered by various factors at societal, organizational, and individual levels:

  • Societal Triggers: E.g., Fear of job loss, social isolation, surveillance through facial recognition, and data security concerns are major societal contributors. For instance, older individuals or those with less technological expertise often feel excluded or overwhelmed by the digital shift.
  • Organizational Triggers: E.g., High expectations for constant availability and quick adaptation to new processes can cause significant stress. Issues like inadequate infrastructure and technical problems further exacerbate this anxiety.
  • Individual Triggers: E.g., Lack of time for proper training, low affinity for technology, and fear of losing control or being overwhelmed by rapid developments are common personal triggers.
Measuring Digitalisation Anxiety

To address digitalisation anxiety, Pfaffinger et al. (2021) developed the Digitalisation Anxiety Scale (DAS), which includes 35 triggers across societal, organizational, and individual levels. This scale helps in identifying the specific sources of anxiety and tailoring interventions accordingly.

Consequences of Digitalisation Anxiety

Unchecked digitalisation anxiety can lead to various negative outcomes, including increased stress, reduced engagement and job satisfaction, poor sleep quality, and lower productivity. Teachers experiencing this anxiety might find it challenging to keep up with technological changes, impacting their teaching effectiveness and overall well-being. It is also unlikely that any nudge intervention aimed at increasing digital teaching tool use is effective for teachers experiencing digitalisation anxiety.

The Dual Nature of the Digital Mindset

Digitalisation and new technologies bring new possibilities, opportunities, and benefits. However, they also trigger uncertainty and fears, becoming burdensome for those affected. Personal attitudes and beliefs regarding digitalisation accumulate in the individual digital mindset, which can have both negative and positive components.

Addressing Digitalisation Anxiety

Addressing digitalisation anxiety involves a multi-faceted approach:

  • Education and Training: Providing comprehensive training and continuous learning opportunities can help teachers build confidence and competence in using new technologies.
  • Support Systems: Establishing a robust support system with technical assistance readily available can alleviate many of the anxieties related to technology use.
  • Organizational Strategies: Clear communication about the benefits and processes of new (teaching) technologies, along with realistic time management and workload planning, can help reduce organizational triggers of anxiety.
  • Personal Strategies: Encouraging a positive mindset, self-efficacy, and proactive problem-solving can empower teachers to cope with technological changes more effectively.

Understanding and addressing digitalisation anxiety is crucial for creating a supportive and effective educational environment. By recognizing the triggers and consequences of this anxiety, and implementing comprehensive strategies to address it, we can help teachers navigate the digital landscape with confidence and ease.

Together, let’s create a future where digitalisation enhances education rather than hinders it.

Authors: Czakert, J.P. & Berger, R.

*This blogpost is based on the following publication: Reif, J.A.M., Czakert, J.P., Spieß, E., Berger, R. (2023). Digitalisierungsangst als Gefahr für ein digitales Mindset?. In: Kaiser, S., Ertl, B. (eds) Digitale Mindsets. Springer Gabler, Wiesbaden.