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How your use of technology can benefit from new year’s resolutions

We fall into bad habits online just like everywhere else. Here are a few tips to sharpen your use of the internet

January is a time for new beginnings and lofty promises under the guise of new year’s resolutions. Some will be kept, most will fall by the wayside.

But there are plenty of tech-focused resolutions you can make for the coming year that are relatively easy to stick to.

Be more inclusive

Technology can level a lot of playing fields, but it can also throw up a few barriers of its own. But there are a few simple things you can do to help.

When posting images on social media, include alt text where available to make it easier for those depending on screen readers to get an accurate idea of what you are posting. Alt text is a description of what is in the image, GIF or visual, and in most cases can be easily added to your social media posts. It is useful for screen readers, to make images more accessible, and for search engine optimisation.


On Facebook, you can access the alt text as you are creating a new post by tapping the three dots on the top right corner of the photo, and choosing “Edit alt text”. On Instagram, the alt text option for grid posts is hidden away under Advanced Settings, which you can access when writing your caption. For X/Twitter users, you click +Alt on the bottom right of the photo, and add the image description. Ideally, alt text should be concise and descriptive.

Likewise, screen readers can sometimes struggle with hashtags. Aside from limiting their use to the essentials, you can also use CamelCase hashtags. That means instead of writing #thisyearstechresolutions, you write #ThisYearsTechResolutions, so the screen readers can distinguish between the different words. Anything else will result in gibberish.

Avoid over-use of emojis too, and be mindful of where you place them - at the end of a post is best.

Cut down the spam

It seems like a good idea at the time: hand over your email address in return for a discount or two in the future. Lured by the promise of money off and a jump on the sales, we sign ourselves up for once a week – if you’re lucky – marketing emails that will often go unread.

They quickly mount up too. On a single day over Christmas, 40 new emails arrived in my personal email; only one wasn’t trying to sell me something. So 2024 is going to be the year of clearing out my inbox.

It can be a mammoth task to deal with. But it is manageable if you tackle a little bit each day. Set aside 10 minutes each day and go through the list of new messages that have arrived. If you no longer want to receive the mails, unsubscribe from the list and delete the messages.

Going forward, be more choosy about who you share your email address with. If you need to give a contact email, or want to get a discount code, have a free email address that you use for signing up to shopping sites – an account from Google or Microsoft for example, or use an alias if your email provider allows it – that you can quickly and easily deactivate when the spam starts to get too much. If you use Apple’s products and have an iCloud+ subscription, you can use the built-in “Hide My Email” feature that will create unique email addresses every time you need to sign up for an account with a website, and then get rid of them once they have served their usefulness.

As an added bonus, you are less likely to miss out on genuine emails that could get lost in the mountain of spam flooding your inbox every day.

Disengage from time-sucking platforms

While you are at it, maybe it is time to say good bye to some of the social media platforms that have been taking up far too much of our time and energy. The apps themselves are designed to be addictive, giving you a mini dopamine hit and keep you coming back time and again. Before you know it, you’ve lost an hour to a TikTok wormhole, spent too long scrolling though “perfect moment” Instagram feeds, or become embroiled in yet another pointless row on the platform formerly known as Twitter that will never be resolved in the way you would like.

Avoid over-use of emojis and be mindful of where you place them - at the end of a post is best

The number of platforms out there has also grown in the past year, fuelled in part by the disintegration of Twitter under Elon Musk. Now known as X, the changes brought in by Musk – many under the (very thin) guise of free speech – have created something that many people are finding has become less useful and not somewhere they are keen to devote a lot of time to.

Social media can also show us the both the best and the worst of society. If it is starting to wear you down, 2024 should be the year you call a halt. If you aren’t ready to make a complete break, you can delete the apps from your phone, or deactivate your accounts. But if you have decided enough is enough, it is a good idea to delete the accounts and (hopefully) whatever data you have handed over in the process.

Brush up on your skills

It may be a time suck but the internet also offers a lot of opportunity, not least in making sure that your skills remain up to date. Take AI for example. In the past year, generative AI has exploded, with OpenAI and ChatGPT making a lot of noise in the latter months of 2022, followed quickly by Google with Bard. Expect to see much more of that in 2024, as the technology matures and becomes less of a shiny new toy and more of a core part of the computing experience. Microsoft, for example, is adding a new Copilot key to its Windows 11 keyboards, the first change in almost 30 years and one that will enable quick access to its AI-powered Copilot assistants.

If all of this sounds like gibberish, there are places to go to get a basic education in this new technology and how it will impact our lives. Grow with Google ( offers courses aimed at growing your career, but include the basics such as an introduction to AI. Microsoft is also trying to improve Ireland’s digital skills, including with a national AI programme ( and Dell also offers beginners guides to AI and machine learning (

If you have a LinkedIn account, you can access a free month of its LinkedIn Learning platform ( That gives you access to courses on a range of topics from technology and business skills to more creative pursuits.

Streamline subscriptions

Subscriptions have got out of hand. From on-demand streaming services for video and music to apps that try to upsell you on everything from unlimited online education and daily “brain training” to walking routes and meditation apps.

Take a good, hard look at what is coming out of your bank account each month; it’s likely there is overlap with some of the services, and there may be a few that you no longer interact with enough to justify their cost. Some services will allow you to pause your membership – and their bills – while others will require you to cancel the service with the requisite notice period.

Beware though of being tempted by a discount to stay on. If you aren’t using the service, it’s still a waste of your money at half price.