Tag Archives: Digital Wellbeing

6 things we learned about families and tech during COVID-19

In early March 2020, we conducted a survey to better understand people’s digital wellbeing and tech use. Shortly after, daily life took a turn as the COVID-19 pandemic surged and shelter-in-place orders went into effect in many places throughout the United States. Given that change, we decided to do the survey again in September to check in and see how families' digital wellbeing might have changed. 

While these surveys represent a relatively small sample size of the U.S. population, they still provide valuable insight into recent behavioral trends and add to the ongoing conversation about tech use and mental wellbeing. When comparing the results, we saw some interesting changes to how parents are managing tech for themselves and for their children.

We saw that parents are struggling more now to maintain healthy digital habits for their kids: 

  • In March, 52 percent of parents said they’re overwhelmed managing the role of technology in their children’s lives. In September, that number rose to 60 percent.  
  • In March, 39 percent of parents reported not knowing what kind of tech boundaries to set for their children, compared to 51 percent who reported feeling this way in our September survey. 

While our research revealed these challenges, we also saw that some parts of these families’ overall digital wellbeing have improved:

  • In March, 34 percent of parents said they were likely to unplug and take tech breaks. In September, 41 percent of parents reported they were currently unplugging and taking tech breaks. 
  • In March,63 percent of parents said they felt they could model digital wellbeing habits to their children. In September, that number rose to 73 percent
  • In March, 68 percent of parents said they use technology to keep their children entertained. In September, that dropped to 57 percent.
  • In March, 54 percent of participants said digital technology has a positive impact on the time they spend with their families. In September, this number rose to 63 percent

Everyone—children included—are  inevitably spending more time online, and there are a handful of Google tools that can help the entire family with this increase. For example, the Family Link  app helps you figure out what digital ground rules work best for your family, while also allowing you to keep an eye on kids’ tech use. The kids tab in Google Play features “teacher-approved apps” that are both enriching and fun. And Google Kids Space, a new experience available on select Android tablets, has tons of apps, books and videos for kids to discover. And there are also lots of ways parents can use our digital wellbeing features to take breaks from their devices, unwind for a better night’s rest and ultimately model better tech habits for the family. 

Seeing the changes in the survey results helped us discover more about  families and their tech use, and there’s still so much to learn. As we continue exploring this space, we’ll provide more learnings, tools and resources to support the unfolding changes. Learn more about our digital wellbeing resources at wellbeing.google.


Methodology: Findings are based on results of two separate online surveys conducted by Savanta, a Next15 company. Wave 1 was conducted in February and March 2020; wave 2 was conducted in September 2020. Although wave 2 was shorter than wave 1, for comparability purposes, questions asked and audiences surveyed remained consistent. The online surveys were conducted among n=1,000 (wave 1) and n=500 (wave 2) respondents, respectively. The sample was nationally representative as it relates to age, gender, household income, race/ethnicity and region. Half (50 percent) of the sample consisted of parents with at least one child under 18 and three-quarters (75 percent) of these parents have children under the age of 13 living with them. The margin of error for the total sample at the 95 percent confidence level is +/- 3.1 percentage points for wave 1 and +/-4.4 percentage points for wave 2.

6 things we learned about families and tech during COVID-19

In early March 2020, we conducted a survey to better understand people’s digital wellbeing and tech use. Shortly after, daily life took a turn as the COVID-19 pandemic surged and shelter-in-place orders went into effect in many places throughout the United States. Given that change, we decided to do the survey again in September to check in and see how families' digital wellbeing might have changed. 

While these surveys represent a relatively small sample size of the U.S. population, they still provide valuable insight into recent behavioral trends and add to the ongoing conversation about tech use and mental wellbeing. When comparing the results, we saw some interesting changes to how parents are managing tech for themselves and for their children.

We saw that parents are struggling more now to maintain healthy digital habits for their kids: 

  • In March, 52 percent of parents said they’re overwhelmed managing the role of technology in their children’s lives. In September, that number rose to 60 percent.  
  • In March, 39 percent of parents reported not knowing what kind of tech boundaries to set for their children, compared to 51 percent who reported feeling this way in our September survey. 

While our research revealed these challenges, we also saw that some parts of these families’ overall digital wellbeing have improved:

  • In March, 34 percent of parents said they were likely to unplug and take tech breaks. In September, 41 percent of parents reported they were currently unplugging and taking tech breaks. 
  • In March,63 percent of parents said they felt they could model digital wellbeing habits to their children. In September, that number rose to 73 percent
  • In March, 68 percent of parents said they use technology to keep their children entertained. In September, that dropped to 57 percent.
  • In March, 54 percent of participants said digital technology has a positive impact on the time they spend with their families. In September, this number rose to 63 percent

Everyone—children included—are  inevitably spending more time online, and there are a handful of Google tools that can help the entire family with this increase. For example, the Family Link  app helps you figure out what digital ground rules work best for your family, while also allowing you to keep an eye on kids’ tech use. The kids tab in Google Play features “teacher-approved apps” that are both enriching and fun. And Google Kids Space, a new experience available on select Android tablets, has tons of apps, books and videos for kids to discover. And there are also lots of ways parents can use our digital wellbeing features to take breaks from their devices, unwind for a better night’s rest and ultimately model better tech habits for the family. 

Seeing the changes in the survey results helped us discover more about  families and their tech use, and there’s still so much to learn. As we continue exploring this space, we’ll provide more learnings, tools and resources to support the unfolding changes. Learn more about our digital wellbeing resources at wellbeing.google.


Methodology: Findings are based on results of two separate online surveys conducted by Savanta, a Next15 company. Wave 1 was conducted in February and March 2020; wave 2 was conducted in September 2020. Although wave 2 was shorter than wave 1, for comparability purposes, questions asked and audiences surveyed remained consistent. The online surveys were conducted among n=1,000 (wave 1) and n=500 (wave 2) respondents, respectively. The sample was nationally representative as it relates to age, gender, household income, race/ethnicity and region. Half (50 percent) of the sample consisted of parents with at least one child under 18 and three-quarters (75 percent) of these parents have children under the age of 13 living with them. The margin of error for the total sample at the 95 percent confidence level is +/- 3.1 percentage points for wave 1 and +/-4.4 percentage points for wave 2.

6 things we learned about families and tech during COVID-19

In early March 2020, we conducted a survey to better understand people’s digital wellbeing and tech use. Shortly after, daily life took a turn as the COVID-19 pandemic surged and shelter-in-place orders went into effect in many places throughout the United States. Given that change, we decided to do the survey again in September to check in and see how families' digital wellbeing might have changed. 

While these surveys represent a relatively small sample size of the U.S. population, they still provide valuable insight into recent behavioral trends and add to the ongoing conversation about tech use and mental wellbeing. When comparing the results, we saw some interesting changes to how parents are managing tech for themselves and for their children.

We saw that parents are struggling more now to maintain healthy digital habits for their kids: 

  • In March, 52 percent of parents said they’re overwhelmed managing the role of technology in their children’s lives. In September, that number rose to 60 percent.  
  • In March, 39 percent of parents reported not knowing what kind of tech boundaries to set for their children, compared to 51 percent who reported feeling this way in our September survey. 

While our research revealed these challenges, we also saw that some parts of these families’ overall digital wellbeing have improved:

  • In March, 34 percent of parents said they were likely to unplug and take tech breaks. In September, 41 percent of parents reported they were currently unplugging and taking tech breaks. 
  • In March,63 percent of parents said they felt they could model digital wellbeing habits to their children. In September, that number rose to 73 percent
  • In March, 68 percent of parents said they use technology to keep their children entertained. In September, that dropped to 57 percent.
  • In March, 54 percent of participants said digital technology has a positive impact on the time they spend with their families. In September, this number rose to 63 percent

Everyone—children included—are  inevitably spending more time online, and there are a handful of Google tools that can help the entire family with this increase. For example, the Family Link  app helps you figure out what digital ground rules work best for your family, while also allowing you to keep an eye on kids’ tech use. The kids tab in Google Play features “teacher-approved apps” that are both enriching and fun. And Google Kids Space, a new experience available on select Android tablets, has tons of apps, books and videos for kids to discover. And there are also lots of ways parents can use our digital wellbeing features to take breaks from their devices, unwind for a better night’s rest and ultimately model better tech habits for the family. 

Seeing the changes in the survey results helped us discover more about  families and their tech use, and there’s still so much to learn. As we continue exploring this space, we’ll provide more learnings, tools and resources to support the unfolding changes. Learn more about our digital wellbeing resources at wellbeing.google.


Methodology: Findings are based on results of two separate online surveys conducted by Savanta, a Next15 company. Wave 1 was conducted in February and March 2020; wave 2 was conducted in September 2020. Although wave 2 was shorter than wave 1, for comparability purposes, questions asked and audiences surveyed remained consistent. The online surveys were conducted among n=1,000 (wave 1) and n=500 (wave 2) respondents, respectively. The sample was nationally representative as it relates to age, gender, household income, race/ethnicity and region. Half (50 percent) of the sample consisted of parents with at least one child under 18 and three-quarters (75 percent) of these parents have children under the age of 13 living with them. The margin of error for the total sample at the 95 percent confidence level is +/- 3.1 percentage points for wave 1 and +/-4.4 percentage points for wave 2.

More controls and transparency for your selfies

Since the dawn of the front-facing camera, and even before it, selfies have been a crucial way we express ourselves. So crucial, in fact, that more than 70 percent of photos taken on an Android device use the front-facing camera, and over 24 billion photos have been labeled as selfies in Google Photos. And of course, emojis, filters, stickers and captions have all become part of the fun, and help us show what we're feeling and thinking at any given moment. 

Filters have rapidly increased in popularity over the past few years. Many of us love to play around with filters and try different ones on our photos—but sometimes, filters are turned on by default in our photo apps without our knowing. 

We set out to better understand the effect filtered selfies might have on people’s wellbeing—especially when filters are on by default. We conducted multiple studies and spoke with child and mental health experts from around the world, and found that when you’re not aware that a camera or photo app has applied a filter, the photos can negatively impact mental wellbeing. These default filters can quietly set a beauty standard that some people compare themselves against.

Building guidelines on control, transparency and design language

To put our research into practice, we created a framework to build and design products that support your wellbeing as well as an intentional relationship with technology. These people-centered guidelines inform and respect your personal choices regarding face retouching and center around control, transparency and design language. This means you should get to choose if and when your appearance is changed in pictures.

These guidelines suggest that face retouching settings should be off by default so you choose  when you want to turn them on. If face retouching filters are on, this should be clearly indicated in the product experience. And when it’s off, it should stay off. We’ve steered away from references to “beauty,” by using iconography and language that is value-neutral, so you can decide what retouching means to you.


Bringing these principles to life

With Google’s Pixel phones, we’ve begun to apply these design principles directly within the Camera app. Starting with the Pixel 4a, the new Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5, face retouching options are available in the camera app, but turned off by default. In an upcoming update, you’ll see value-free, descriptive icons and labels for face retouching options. And if you choose to use face retouching effects, you’ll see more information about how each setting is applied and what changes it makes to your image.

Retouching

Meaningful change takes collective effort, across a broad ecosystem of apps and devices. Our partners have shared customer feedback that echoes what we heard in our research, and we’ve shared our insights and design framework with them as they continue to find ways to update their product experiences as well. 

An app that shares our beliefs is Snapchat. Their default camera experience is always unfiltered, and you have the option to opt-in to lenses. Lens Studio also uses value-neutral terms for its facial retouching feature, and is committed to continuing to make improvements in this area.

These are the first of many steps we’re taking to support wellbeing and bring your voice into our design process.

Maggie Stanphill is making more mindful tech

If you’ve seen your weekly screen time go up over the past few months, you’re hardly alone. Maggie Stanphill, Google’s director of user experience (UX), has seen her stats go up, too. Maggie leads UX efforts for Google’s Digital Wellbeing initiative, and she’s noticed that the current state of the world requires an evolution in our understanding of how we can mindfully use tech. 

“The emphasis on screen time feels really tone deaf right now, right?” Maggie says. “Almost everyone who has access to tech is spending more and more time online. So many of us are getting those weekly screen time reports that say it’s gone up by some percent, and that might actually be aggravating.” But, she explains, there are ways digital tools can be more helpful. “We’re really trying to create a more nuanced approach. Look at sleep: We know queries for insomnia have gone way up, and we’re working on refining our tools to support that.”

I recently sat down with Maggie via Google Meet to talk more about her work in UX, and how Google’s Digital Wellbeing features are pivoting to meet people where they are. 

How would you describe your job at a dinner party to someone who doesn’t work in tech?

I’d say we conduct research with people around the world to better understand their needs and bring that perspective into the product design process to make tech more helpful and less intrusive. I also like to say that you can think of a UXer as the voice of the user in the room where decisions are being made. That’s where we play a role to advocate for people’s needs. 

What was your career path to UX like? 

I started as a journalist, actually; I got a degree in English. I loved storytelling, and I really found there was a natural transition when I moved into this field—storytelling was part of the design process. Narrative showed up in a variety of ways, like conducting ethnographic research and sharing people’s perspectives through tools like personas, which are character sketches that help UXers understand their core audience. Having that people-first lens is what’s really driven my career path. There was no “UX degree” when I was going through school, but I’ve found that focusing on understanding people’s needs and their goals translated really well in terms of what I needed to grow and be effective at this work. 

Have you heard of the Strengths Finder quiz?

I’ve heard of it but I haven’t taken it!

One of my primary strengths is “input,” information gathering and synthesizing. I’m organizing information every day, in my brain and in Google Docs! It’s part of my process. I have to internalize things to feel like I can be fluent and translate those concepts to make sure our products are building toward a shared strategy and are easy to use. 

What specifically are you working on at Google right now?

My focus is two-fold. I work in an advocate role for the company-wide digital wellbeing initiative, and I also manage our Fit UX team. My interest in people and human behavior is very much what drew me to digital wellbeing. For the past two years we’ve spent our time defining what “digital wellbeing” means. More recently, we’ve tried to pivot from a focus on screen time as the most important metric to really empowering people by default. What I mean by that is there are ways we as product designers can build wellbeing into our product experiences, so people don’t have so much to worry about when it comes to using tech. Because we’re a cross-Google team, we’re really focused on providing expertise from a research-based set of best practices. So we established a digital wellbeing toolkit, which includes four key tenets: empowerment, awareness, control and adaptability, and applied those in a variety of ways. 

How do those tenets show up in products?

Sleep is a great example of how people’s fundamental needs drive Google’s product priorities. Sleep is so critical to overall wellbeing, and we’ve heard from people all over the world that they’re not getting enough of it. We imagined we could help people get more sleep by making our products more adaptable. You look at Android, Google Assistant and YouTube and realize that if they were more coordinated they could work together to help people get more sleep. That’s when we came up with Bedtime mode, which uses Clock to set your preferred schedule. That schedule then activates features like Grayscale and Do Not Disturb to help you disconnect, and stay that way. 

The underlying tenet that makes this work is adaptability, where each experience takes the person’s preferences into account; in this case, that preference is their bedtime schedules. Then all the devices and apps adjust to support those needs: Your bedtime clock notifies you to wind down, apps turn to Grayscale, and when your phone docks, it goes into Do Not Disturb automatically. Google Assistant also has a Bedtime routine that follows this schedule. 

2 Clock Bedtime.png

In your digital wellbeing research, is there anything that’s really surprised you?

Maybe it’s not fully surprising in the canon of human behavior, but in our annual survey of user sentiment, it always strikes me that people have more concern about others’ use of tech than their own. There’s a higher percentage of care related to their loved ones’ tech use, but when it comes to reflecting on their own, that percentage of care is much lower. We have a hard time seeing and changing our own behavior.

Has quarantine changed your thinking about digital wellbeing at all, or made anything more clear to you?

Aside from shifting the focus from screen time to positive use of tech, the other thing that jumped off the page for me is the interplay between digital access and mental health. We’ve seen an increase in people’s feelings of disconnection from others due to social isolation, and therefore, the use of tech is seen as positive because it helps them feel more connected. On the other hand, we’ve seen early indicators that income and race may determine a person’s access to tech, and that access can play a role in wellbeing. For example, certain populations are suffering from shared grief, given some of the recent health and recent events, and they can benefit from more digital tools that help with communication, mental health and more. Yet this gap remains between access to information and tools to support wellbeing. And we’re looking into ways to bridge that divide.

Bedtime tools to help improve your sleep

With sleep, the quality is just as important as the quantity. Right now, those of us who no longer commute and are staying close to home may be able to sleep in, but how well and how much we’re sleeping can still be a struggle. In fact, there’s been a rise in sleep-related searches like “insomnia” and “can’t sleep,” which reached all-time highs in April and May. At Google, we believe that technology should improve life, not distract from it–including your sleep. Today we’re sharing a few tips and new bedtime tools to help you get better and more restful sleep.


Turn on Bedtime mode to limit interruptions

A dark, quiet environment can help with falling and staying asleep. With Bedtime mode, formerly known as Wind Down in the Digital Wellbeing settings, your Android phone can stay dark and quiet while you sleep. While Bedtime mode is on, it uses Do Not Disturb to silence calls, texts and other notifications that might disturb your sleep. Grayscale fades the colors on your phone to black and white to reduce the draw from enticing colors that keep you up.


We’ve now made it easier to customize how and when you turn on Bedtime mode. Based on your bedtime schedule, you can choose to have it turn on automatically or after your phone is plugged in to charge. You can also add Bedtime mode to your phone's Quick Settings panel to instantly turn it on or off with a single tap. And if you need a few more minutes, you can pause Bedtime mode without needing to adjust your schedule. Bedtime mode is available on all devices with Digital Wellbeing and parental controls settings.

1 Bedtime mode.gif

Bedtime mode limits interruptions by keeping your phone dark and quiet.

Get more consistent sleep with Clock

A regular bedtime and wake-up schedule (including on your off days) helps your body establish a strong circadian rhythm and can improve the quality of your sleep. With the new Bedtime tab in the Clock app, you can set daily sleep and wake times to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
Pixel4_02_Clock_bedtime_home.png

Set a sleep schedule and see your bedtime habits with the new Bedtime tab in Clock.

While sticking to a schedule is something to strive for, real life often requires flexibility. It’s helpful to start with a wake-up time and work backwards when you set your bedtime schedule. In Clock, you’ll see a preview of tomorrow’s calendar and a tally of the total hours of sleep you’d get, and you can adjust your bedtime if needed. 


To help you get to bed and fall asleep, you’ll receive a reminder before bedtime and an option to play calming sounds from Calm, Spotify, YouTube Music and more. For those with Digital Wellbeing installed, you can pair with Bedtime mode to limit interruptions while you sleep. And if you happen to stay on your phone later than planned, you can see how much time you’re spending and which apps you’ve used after your set bedtime. 


Being woken up by an alarm can be jarring. To avoid interrupting deep sleep and wake up more gently, the Sunrise Alarm gives a visual cue that your wake up time is approaching, 15 minutes prior to your audio alarm. Make it an even more pleasant experience by adding your favorite song or sounds.

3 sunrise alarm.gif

The Sunrise Alarm gradually brightens your screen to help you wake up gently.

The new bedtime experience is rolling out to Pixel devices starting today and will be available in the Clock app on other Android devices later this summer. 


Set a bedtime reminder in YouTube

We also made it easier to manage how much time you spend watching on YouTube on your phone after bedtime.You can now get a reminder that it’s time for bed in the YouTube app. You can choose to see the reminder at bedtime or after your video completes. And if you need a bit more time, you can snooze to continue watching and be reminded again in 10 minutes.
4 YouTube reminders.png

YouTube’s bedtime reminders make it easier to set helpful boundaries.

Keep devices locked at bedtime with Family Link

Family Link helps you set digital ground rules for your children, including managing their screen time activity, app downloads, in-app purchases and even bedtime for their device. You can create a daily bedtime schedule, adjusting it on certain days or weekends as needed. Once bedtime rolls around, your child’s device will lock, but will still allow calls in case your child needs to reach you.

5 Family Link. .png

With Family Link, you can lock your child’s device at bedtime.

We hope these bedtime tools can help you and your family unplug and get the consistent, restful sleep you need.

Bedtime tools to help improve your sleep

With sleep, the quality is just as important as the quantity. Right now, those of us who no longer commute and are staying close to home may be able to sleep in, but how well and how much we’re sleeping can still be a struggle. In fact, there’s been a rise in sleep-related searches like “insomnia” and “can’t sleep,” which reached all-time highs in April and May. At Google, we believe that technology should improve life, not distract from it–including your sleep. Today we’re sharing a few tips and new bedtime tools to help you get better and more restful sleep.


Turn on Bedtime mode to limit interruptions

A dark, quiet environment can help with falling and staying asleep. With Bedtime mode, formerly known as Wind Down in the Digital Wellbeing settings, your Android phone can stay dark and quiet while you sleep. While Bedtime mode is on, it uses Do Not Disturb to silence calls, texts and other notifications that might disturb your sleep. Grayscale fades the colors on your phone to black and white to reduce the draw from enticing colors that keep you up.


We’ve now made it easier to customize how and when you turn on Bedtime mode. Based on your bedtime schedule, you can choose to have it turn on automatically or after your phone is plugged in to charge. You can also add Bedtime mode to your phone's Quick Settings panel to instantly turn it on or off with a single tap. And if you need a few more minutes, you can pause Bedtime mode without needing to adjust your schedule. Bedtime mode is available on all devices with Digital Wellbeing and parental controls settings.

1 Bedtime mode.gif

Bedtime mode limits interruptions by keeping your phone dark and quiet.

Get more consistent sleep with Clock

A regular bedtime and wake-up schedule (including on your off days) helps your body establish a strong circadian rhythm and can improve the quality of your sleep. With the new Bedtime tab in the Clock app, you can set daily sleep and wake times to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
Pixel4_02_Clock_bedtime_home.png

Set a sleep schedule and see your bedtime habits with the new Bedtime tab in Clock.

While sticking to a schedule is something to strive for, real life often requires flexibility. It’s helpful to start with a wake-up time and work backwards when you set your bedtime schedule. In Clock, you’ll see a preview of tomorrow’s calendar and a tally of the total hours of sleep you’d get, and you can adjust your bedtime if needed. 


To help you get to bed and fall asleep, you’ll receive a reminder before bedtime and an option to play calming sounds from Calm, Spotify, YouTube Music and more. For those with Digital Wellbeing installed, you can pair with Bedtime mode to limit interruptions while you sleep. And if you happen to stay on your phone later than planned, you can see how much time you’re spending and which apps you’ve used after your set bedtime. 


Being woken up by an alarm can be jarring. To avoid interrupting deep sleep and wake up more gently, the Sunrise Alarm gives a visual cue that your wake up time is approaching, 15 minutes prior to your audio alarm. Make it an even more pleasant experience by adding your favorite song or sounds.

3 sunrise alarm.gif

The Sunrise Alarm gradually brightens your screen to help you wake up gently.

The new bedtime experience is rolling out to Pixel devices starting today and will be available in the Clock app on other Android devices later this summer. 


Set a bedtime reminder in YouTube

We also made it easier to manage how much time you spend watching on YouTube on your phone after bedtime.You can now get a reminder that it’s time for bed in the YouTube app. You can choose to see the reminder at bedtime or after your video completes. And if you need a bit more time, you can snooze to continue watching and be reminded again in 10 minutes.
4 YouTube reminders.png

YouTube’s bedtime reminders make it easier to set helpful boundaries.

Keep devices locked at bedtime with Family Link

Family Link helps you set digital ground rules for your children, including managing their screen time activity, app downloads, in-app purchases and even bedtime for their device. You can create a daily bedtime schedule, adjusting it on certain days or weekends as needed. Once bedtime rolls around, your child’s device will lock, but will still allow calls in case your child needs to reach you.

5 Family Link. .png

With Family Link, you can lock your child’s device at bedtime.

We hope these bedtime tools can help you and your family unplug and get the consistent, restful sleep you need.

Source: Android


Ideas from our experts on fighting screen fatigue

I’m a big advocate of stepping away from my laptop and phone after work (I've even beenthatperson who brags about their low screen time stats). But unsurprisingly, those numbers aren’t quite so low these days. Between working remotely, video calling my friends and family, scanning social media and the news, live-streaming fitness classes and definitely spending more time than usual binge-watching my favorite shows, my screen time is way, way (way) up. Sometimes, I’m relieved that I’m still able to do so much with my phone or laptop. Other times, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed and exhausted

The reality is that technology is critical. But in trying to find a new sense of balance (or any balance at all), there are a few things we can do to alleviate some of these growing pains. And while I’m not a digital wellbeing expert, I’m lucky to work with a few. I asked some of Google’s experts if they had any advice for me and others who are looking to use technology a little more intentionally. Here’s what they suggested.

Use your voice.   

To avoid getting pulled into your phone, you can use your voice to ask Google Assistant for help completing actions, like setting an alarm, sending a text, playing the latest news, getting answers to questions, help finding recipes or ordering takeout and much more. You can also create custom or ready-made Routines to trigger several actions with a single command. For example, when I say “Hey Google, good morning,” Google Assistant turns on my kitchen lights, starts the coffee maker, reads out my calendar and plays the news. - Lilian Rincon, Senior Director of Product Management, Google Assistant


Find active alternatives.

As our days fill up with video calls, try to step away from the screen and add physical activity into your life. Whether you go for a run, a bike ride or a walk during a telephone meeting there are many ways to squeeze movement in. If you have children, you could even exercise with them. As you make progress, use Google Fit to keep track and earn heart points which can help you meet theWorld Health Organization recommendations. That said, don't be discouraged if you fall short. Every little bit of movement adds up and has tremendoushealth benefits including improving mental health and helping you sleep better. - Kapil Parakh MD, MPH, PhD, Medical Lead, Google Fit


Discuss and plan tech use with kids. 

If you have kids, chat with them about the content you each prefer and work with them to plan out a schedule for listening, watching, playing and interacting with it. Does the content align with your family's values? Does the experience affect your kids' behavior in ways that help them relax and/or thrive? If not, consider alternatives and discuss your reasoning. Use this guide to get help talking to your kids about finding positive content and other tech topics. - Jennifer Kotler, PhD, UXR Lead, Google Play


Intentionally detach from and reattach to work. 

Clearly segmenting work time and non-work time improves one’s satisfaction with their wellbeing. Turning off notifications and putting your laptop out of sight reduces the tendency to check work email or hop into a last-minute video meeting. When it’s time to get back to work, take a few minutes to think through your goals for that work time before getting started. And create a dedicated workspace to signal to your brain that it’s time to focus. - Jessica DiVento, Psy.D., Chief Mental Health Advisor, YouTube


Reduce blue light before bedtime.

Blue light can have a negative impact on our natural sleep cycles by delaying the release of melatonin and increasing our alertness. Putting away screens before bedtime has shown to help people fall asleep easier and sleep better. Start with around 30 minutes of screen-free time before bed, and work your way up to two hours, depending on what works best for you. Try reading a book or listening to an audio program instead so you don’t have to engage with a screen. - Alan McLean, Designer, Google Wellbeing Lab


For more digital wellbeing resources, visit wellbeing.google.


Ideas from our experts on fighting screen fatigue

I’m a big advocate of stepping away from my laptop and phone after work (I've even beenthatperson who brags about their low screen time stats). But unsurprisingly, those numbers aren’t quite so low these days. Between working remotely, video calling my friends and family, scanning social media and the news, live-streaming fitness classes and definitely spending more time than usual binge-watching my favorite shows, my screen time is way, way (way) up. Sometimes, I’m relieved that I’m still able to do so much with my phone or laptop. Other times, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed and exhausted

The reality is that technology is critical. But in trying to find a new sense of balance (or any balance at all), there are a few things we can do to alleviate some of these growing pains. And while I’m not a digital wellbeing expert, I’m lucky to work with a few. I asked some of Google’s experts if they had any advice for me and others who are looking to use technology a little more intentionally. Here’s what they suggested.

Use your voice.   

To avoid getting pulled into your phone, you can use your voice to ask Google Assistant for help completing actions, like setting an alarm, sending a text, playing the latest news, getting answers to questions, help finding recipes or ordering takeout and much more. You can also create custom or ready-made Routines to trigger several actions with a single command. For example, when I say “Hey Google, good morning,” Google Assistant turns on my kitchen lights, starts the coffee maker, reads out my calendar and plays the news. - Lilian Rincon, Senior Director of Product Management, Google Assistant


Find active alternatives.

As our days fill up with video calls, try to step away from the screen and add physical activity into your life. Whether you go for a run, a bike ride or a walk during a telephone meeting there are many ways to squeeze movement in. If you have children, you could even exercise with them. As you make progress, use Google Fit to keep track and earn heart points which can help you meet theWorld Health Organization recommendations. That said, don't be discouraged if you fall short. Every little bit of movement adds up and has tremendoushealth benefits including improving mental health and helping you sleep better. - Kapil Parakh MD, MPH, PhD, Medical Lead, Google Fit


Discuss and plan tech use with kids. 

If you have kids, chat with them about the content you each prefer and work with them to plan out a schedule for listening, watching, playing and interacting with it. Does the content align with your family's values? Does the experience affect your kids' behavior in ways that help them relax and/or thrive? If not, consider alternatives and discuss your reasoning. Use this guide to get help talking to your kids about finding positive content and other tech topics. - Jennifer Kotler, PhD, UXR Lead, Google Play


Intentionally detach from and reattach to work. 

Clearly segmenting work time and non-work time improves one’s satisfaction with their wellbeing. Turning off notifications and putting your laptop out of sight reduces the tendency to check work email or hop into a last-minute video meeting. When it’s time to get back to work, take a few minutes to think through your goals for that work time before getting started. And create a dedicated workspace to signal to your brain that it’s time to focus. - Jessica DiVento, Psy.D., Chief Mental Health Advisor, YouTube


Reduce blue light before bedtime.

Blue light can have a negative impact on our natural sleep cycles by delaying the release of melatonin and increasing our alertness. Putting away screens before bedtime has shown to help people fall asleep easier and sleep better. Start with around 30 minutes of screen-free time before bed, and work your way up to two hours, depending on what works best for you. Try reading a book or listening to an audio program instead so you don’t have to engage with a screen. - Alan McLean, Designer, Google Wellbeing Lab


For more digital wellbeing resources, visit wellbeing.google.


Reflections and resolutions for a healthier 2020

The beginning of the new year is a great time to reflect on what’s most important to you. Taking better care of yourself is a common New Year's resolution, but let’s be real—making resolutions is often easier than keeping them. One thing we know: New habits that are repeatable and achievable are the ones that end up sticking. 

At Google, we believe that great technology should improve life, not distract from it, and we’ve heard from people that their health can be impacted by their phone use. That’s why we’ve built digital wellbeing tools and features into our products to help you unplug, minimize digital distractions and focus better when using technology. In 2019, we talked to more than 100,000 people to understand their priorities. Most people told us they need free time for themselves, quality time with others and focused time for work or school. 

This year, we encourage you to reflect on the role that technology plays in your life and set resolutions for how and when you use your phone. Everyone has a unique definition of what balanced tech use looks like, so no matter what your goals are, here are some of the steps you can take to bring digital wellbeing into your life in 2020.  

Woman walking around her home, texting and using phone, getting ready for bed, turning on focus mode and grayscale features.

Free up time for yourself

  • To stop using your phone before bed (or in bed), set a bedtime schedule with Android’s Wind Down, which automatically turns on Do Not Disturb and fades the screen to Grayscale at your chosen bedtime. (Check out this video to see how it works.)

  • Double down on your sleep goals by setting up your personal routine with Google Assistant. Simply say “hey Google, bedtime,” and it can automatically put your phone on silent, adjust lights, set an alarm and tell you about your schedule for the next day. 

  • Silence your notifications on YouTube during your preferred quiet hours.

  • Schedule internet breaks on specific devices or manage screen time by pausing Wi-Fi during bedtime or dinnertime with Google WiFi. Or just ask your Google Assistant to pause the internet connection. 

Spend quality time with your VIPs 

  • To quickly silence all notifications, including phone calls, turn on Do Not Disturb. You can choose to allow calls from the people you have “starred” in your contacts list in case close family and friends need to reach you. Or, if you use the Pixel 2, 3, or 4, simply Flip to Shhh by turning your phone face down on the table to automatically enable Do Not Disturb.  

  • Set digital ground rules and screen time limits for everyone in the household (and monitor their use) with Google Family Link. You can lock a device at bedtime, or simply when you think your child needs a break. Starting with Android 10, Family Link is standard in every Android phone. 

Find focus for work or school

  • With the new Focus mode on Android, you can switch off distractions by silencing the apps that most often require your attention—like email, social media, or the news—so you can get more done in less time. Set up a recurring schedule to make it a habit. 

  • If you have a goal to reduce the time you spend on your device, try using Google Assistant. With just your voice, you can quickly send messages, ask about traffic, organize your tasks and remind yourself to call your parents.

  • To limit the number of email alerts you receive from Gmail, you can turn on high-priority notifications and only get notified when it’s important. Turn on Priority Inbox to automatically organize your emails into categories so you can quickly see the most important ones first.

  • Spend less time writing and responding to emails by using Smart Compose on Gmail. It lets you quickly draft an email by suggesting words and phrases as you write, and Smart Reply saves you time by suggesting quick responses to your messages. 

We know that digital wellbeing is extremely personal and that it doesn’t come with a one-size-fits-all solution, but hopefully these tools can help you achieve your specific goals. To learn more, visit wellbeing.google

Source: Android