Google expands its commitment to digital wellbeing

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My excitement about Google’s digital wellbeing announcement was shortlived when they announced that the features would be rolling out to their Pixel devices before making its way into the rest of our phones.

Google seems to be taking their responsibility to their users more seriously of late. They realised that users need protection from app developers, who are using advanced strategies to increase user engagement and usage.

Damaging effects of 24/7 connectivity

This however comes at the expense of the mental and often financial well-being of users. One might end up paying for phone usage in time you’ll never get back. Not to mention credit card bills from micro-transactions.

The fact that Google has realised the potentially damaging effect of handsets on users quality of life is a win. Ultimately, we’re all hoping that Google’s digital wellbeing tools roll out sooner rather than late.

It sounds as though Google are quite happy with the results of their initial rollout to Pixel. They report that app timers had helped people stick to their app usage goals 90% of the time.

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Photo: Pexels

In addtion, those who used the digital wellbeing wind-down feature reduced their nightly phone usage by 27% on average. They also reported getting a better night’s rest.

A survey conducted by Google found that 1 in 3 Americans had taken some steps toward improving their digital well-being in the past 12 months.

Of those who had taken action, more than 80% noticed a “positive impact on their overall sense of well-being”.

New Google Wellbeing features

At a recent Android I/O event, a few new wellness features were announced. The first is the ability to make some application notifications “gentle notifications.”

This allows users to differentiate between notifications that are important enough for you want them to alert you with a sound or vibration. Lower priority notifications will only be visible when you eventually unlock your phone again.

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Image via Tech Advisor

Another tool will be the inclusion of Focus mode as an option from the Quick Settings. Users will be able to pause distracting apps with a single tap.

They could also set goals for how much or how little screen time they want to engage in daily. Android will then give you ‘nudges’ to help you achieve your goals.

Family Link will also address the difficult job parents have in managing their children’s screen time. Parents will be able to set overall screen time limits as well as app specific limits.

They will even be able to dish out bonus screen time from their devices.

The tools sound like a godsend, but if you’re not sure how to implement the changes or discuss digital health with your kids, Google created a portal where experts give advice on how parents can broach the subject.

Watch: Digital Wellbeing overview

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