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Google’s focus is digital wellbeing

Google’s focus is digital wellbeing

As technology becomes increasingly woven into our day-to-day, it’s more important than ever to make sure technology improves people’s lives instead of distracting people from their lives. Research conducted by Android shows that, in addition to the perceived social obligation to respond to alerts very quickly and be available all the time, the sheer volume of engaging activities facilitated by smartphones can make it hard for people to break the habit of constant device interaction.

Google is committed to building technology that is helpful to everyone, and the company has long been working on ways to address the need to reduce the amount of time people spend on smart devices and the anxiety often associated with these habits in order to make way for more balanced living overall.

What is digital wellbeing?

Digital wellbeing is the state of being comfortable and content with how technology fits into someone’s life, coupled with the feeling of being aware of and in control of their technology use. The first step toward digital wellbeing is often understanding more about how you interact with technology in the first place. Google aims to help people discover what a state of digital wellbeing is to them, so they can experience the very best of technology, without the unwanted distractions.

So, how is Google promoting digital wellbeing?

To this end, and with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), Google now provides its users with tools allowing them to keep track of, and manage device usage, while also allowing them to see where they can proactively cut back and change their habits towards a more balanced life.

Google is now helping people by actively facilitating disconnection, reducing the temptation for them to re-engage, and allowing for partial disconnection where needed — features that are, and will continue to be, rolled out across Google products.

Google products that facilitate digital wellbeing

With the help of AI and ML, Google makes everyday tasks like replying to emails quicker to complete, so that people can spend less time on their phones and more time on the things that matter most to them. With Google Home and the Assistant, Google has been working to create an even more natural and screen-free relationship with technology.

More recently, the company has begun releasing new tools and features that help people better manage their digital lives and form healthy tech habits across Android, YouTube, Family Link and Gmail:

Digital wellbeing on Android Pixel

Google has been hard at work adding key capabilities to help users achieve a balance with technology, focusing on allowing people to understand their tech usage habits and giving them the control to help them interact with their device the way they want. These include:

  • A dashboard of how users spend time on their devices and apps, how many times users have unlocked their phones, how many notifications they have received.

  • An app timer lets users set time limits on apps, nudging them when they approach their limits and greying out app icons to help remind users of their digital wellbeing goals.

  • Do Not Disturb now silences phone calls, texts and all notifications that pop up on screen. This feature is even easier to use with Android’s new gesture: if a user places his or her phone face down on the table, the device automatically enters Do Not Disturb.

  • Wind down prepares a user’s device for bed by the user schedule changes to the display. Activating Night Light reduces blue light and Grayscale gets rid of all color, reminding users to switch off for the night.

Digital wellbeing on YouTube
  • Take a break reminder: Users can have an opt-in watch page reminder that appears during long watch sessions with a reminder to take a break after a specified amount of time.

  • Time watched profile: summary of how much time the user spends watching, sliced by various time intervals. Based on watch history.

  • Notifications: users can disable sounds and vibrations – with the default requirement being that any notification sent between 10PM and 8AM local time will be silent. Users can customise the time to fit their schedule.

  • Notifications: scheduled digest: A new opt-in digest mode for notifications, which allows users to receive a single summary notification each day in place of multiple notifications throughout the day.

Digital wellbeing on Family Link
  • Parents can set certain digital ground rules for their kids through features that enable them to manage apps, keep an eye on screen time, and set a bedtime for their child’s device.

  • Family Link still lets the kids use their phones for emergencies, though.
Digital wellbeing on Gmail
  • High Priority Notifications: A feature for the mobile app, which uses AI to only notify you of important emails so you are not as distracted as you would be if you got a notification for every single email.

But before we rush out to google more and even enter into download mode, this is only available on Android Pixel at the moment BUT Google’s focus on digital wellbeing is expected to be available on Android soon!

Clare Petra Matthes

Hi, I'm Clare and I am a freelance writer and Tech journalist as well as the owner and founder of where I review tech devices and also cover emerging technology news. Outside of I write for a number of publications and have regular tech slots on chaiFM radio station and eNCA's Tech Matters national breakfast TV news show.

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