Tag Archives: families

Parents tell us how they’re approaching family tech use

Last year, parents were forced to quickly adapt when schools, daycares and eventually summer camps closed. Almost immediately, many kids turned to online services for education and entertainment.

We want to provide a new website with helpful resources for families raising kids in a digital world during this challenging moment. So we decided to look at last year’s top Google Search trends related to digital parenting, and also surveyed more than 2,000 parents with kids under 13 in the U.S. Here’s what we found:

Tech talk

1. Parents don’t feel equipped to talk about tech use with their kids

Over this last year, 2 in 5 parents said they don’t feel confident in talking about different tech-related topics with the kids. This includes discussions about things like screen time, digital wellbeing and discovering quality apps, games and activities. Kick off the conversation with your kids with some helpful tips.
healthy digital habits

2. Screen time rules are changing

Searches for "how much screen time should a child have" trended last year. As parents searched for how to manage the time their kids spend on devices, distance learning inevitably led to increased screen time usage. Check out how to form healthy digital habits.
Remote learning

3. Remote learning became the norm

Searches for “how to homeschool” and “learning at home” reached all-time highs last year. This comes as no surprise given that 82 percent of families reported participating in remote learning. Learn more about classroom tools to help with distance learning.
Balancing mindful experiences

4. Balancing online time with mindful experiences

In our survey, we found that parents are looking for quality kids content for learning, play and wellbeing. In fact, searches for “kids mindfulness” reached an all-time high in September 2020. We’re working with Headspace to create content that helps families practice mindfulness and wellbeing.
positive outcomes

5.Discovering fun activities is a must

Fun, engaging activities are key to keeping kids focused, and they can also be a great way for families to spend time together. “Fun at home activities for kids” reached  all-time highs in April. Discover how tech can help your family experience new things together.

6. Devices are a part of families’ everyday lives

As families continue to increase their technology usage, it’s helpful to set up digital ground rules. Our survey found that 70 percent of parents have kids with their own phones, and 75 percent of parents have kids with their own tablets. Find which parental controls suit your family’s needs.
online safety

7. Make online safety a central part of your tech conversation with your kids

Our survey found that 1 in 4 parents have not proactively spoken to their kids about online safety over the past year. Before giving devices to your kids, have a conversation and help teach them how to be safe, smart and positive online.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be releasing a full report on kids, families and technology that we’ve developed with the Family Online Safety Institute. In the meantime, you can check out a few of our new resources and tools families.

Methodology: Findings are based on results of online surveys conducted by Suzy. Wave 1 was conducted in January 2021; wave 2 was conducted in February 2021. The online surveys were conducted among n=2000 respondents. The sample was nationally representative as it relates to age, gender, household income, race/ethnicity and region. All respondents of the sample consisted of parents with at least one child under 13 living with them.

Make tech work for the whole family

As the first generation of parents raising children surrounded by technology, you’ve told us that you need resources to help make it work -- from setting up their first device, to learning about popular apps and services.

Our goal has always been to help families foster a healthy relationship with technology. We’ve given parents a way to help their kids have a safer online experience with Family Link’s parental controls. We’ve also made it easier to find quality content with teacher-approved apps in Google Play, a kids’ tablet experience with Google Kids Space and kids profiles on Google TV.

And today, we’re sharing more resources, tools and content. First, we’re introducing families.google, a website with resources for your family as your kids begin using technology. We’re also sharing a few Family Link updates and launching a content series with Headspace for practicing mindfulness together.

A resource for your family’s tech journey

Over the last year, we’ve listened to your feedback as well as key learnings from commissioned research and what’s trending in Google Search. With families.google, you’ll have a one-stop technology resource. 

The website has detailed guides that spell out how to approach your kids’ technology use from organizations like Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely, Family Online Safety Institute, Headspace, PBS KIDS and Sesame Workshop. Alongside overviews of our kids and families products, you can also catch up on the latest apps and services and find helpful information on parental controls across the web. You’ll also see tips on how to manage online safety and digital wellbeing as well as fun online activities for families and tools for the classroom.

New to Family Link

Our parental controls have always helped you manage how your children spend time on their Android and Chromebook devices, with functions like screen time limits, the ability to hide apps and more. But  parents are increasingly focused on how kids use devices and less on how much, so we’re adding some of your most requested features to Family Link.

You can now encourage your kids to spend more time with apps you approve of by designating them as “always allowed,”  even when their screen time limit is up. For example, if your child needs certain apps for remote learning, they can be marked as “always allowed” so they won’t be counted toward their daily screen time limit. 

Plus, you can now see added details to daily, weekly and monthly activity reports. This gives you an overview of how your child is spending their time in apps, how it changes over a week or month and what portion of time was spent in “always allowed” apps.

If you’re using the Family Link Android app, the teacher-recommended app card now has suggestions from a catalog of thousands of teacher-approved Google Play apps for kids under 13 in the U.S. You can select an app and  download it directly to your child’s device. And to make sure their Android phone doesn’t run out of juice, the Family Link Android app helps you see their device’s battery life.

Finally, we’ve heard that sometimes it's easier to manage parental controls directly on your child's device rather than from your own. In the Android Settings for parental controls, you can now set screen time limits right from your child’s device.

Practicing mindfulness together

This last year, 3 in 5 parents allowed increased screen time for their kids, and we also saw  Google searches like “fun at home activities for kids” and “mindfulness for kids” skyrocket. That’s why we’re working with Headspace to create content that helps families practice mindfulness and wellbeing. Over the next month, an episode from the new Headspace Breathers series will debut weekly on YouTube and YouTube Kids.

Headspace Breathers series

All of these resources and Family Link features are rolling out over the coming weeks. 

A guide to Google Meet for parents and guardians

When the COVID-19 pandemic required students worldwide to transition to distance learning, many parents and guardians suddenly found themselves in the role of part-time teachers — and even IT technicians — on top of their existing responsibilities at work and home. If this describes your family’s situation these days, you’re definitely not alone. Many students and schools use Google Workspace for Education for teaching and learning – which includes tools for organizing classwork, like Google Classroom, and for video conferencing, like Google Meet. If you’re new to using Google Meet, we created the below guide to help make things easier while you juggle your many roles at home. 

What is Google Meet?

Google Meet is Google’s secure and easy-to-use video conferencing solution that is available to schools for free through Google Workspace for Education. Educators use Meet to connect with your child one-on-one, to facilitate remote instruction and to hold virtual meetings and conferences with parents and guardians.

Meet works with all modern web browsers (like Chrome, Safari, etc.), meaning you don’t have to install or download software to your desktop computer in order to use it. For those looking to join from a mobile device like a tablet or smartphone, Meet has a dedicated mobile app that optimizes the video conferencing experience for mobile conditions. If you are using Meet on a Chromebook, we recently made significant performance improvements like audio and video optimizations and the ability to handle multitasking better.

How do I join a Google Meet?

There are a variety of ways to join a call or meeting, including joining from Google Classroom, or via a meeting link or invitation that your teacher has shared via email or Calendar.

How does Meet protect my child’s safety and privacy? 

Google is committed to building products that help protect student and teacher privacy and security. 

We designed Meet with industry-leading built-in protections that help keep calls safe by default. Here are a few examples: 

  • Encryption by default:In Meet, all data is encrypted in transit by default between your device and Google.

  • Unique meeting IDs:Each Meeting ID is 10 characters long, with 25 characters in the set, so it’s difficult to make an unauthorized attempt to join the meeting by guessing the ID. 

  • Protection against reusing finished meetings:Students can’t rejoin meetings once the final participant has left, unless they have meeting creation privileges to start a new meeting. This means if the instructor is the last person to leave a meeting, students can’t join again until an instructor restarts the meeting.

  • No plug-ins required:To limit the attack surface and eliminate the need to push out frequent security patches, Meet works entirely in your web browser, eliminating the need to download and update plug-ins.

Meet also gives educators powerful controls to help keep virtual classes safe and secure. 

  • Safety locks: Educators can decide which methods of joining (via calendar invite or phone, for example) require users to obtain explicit approval to join. 

  • Block anonymous users by default:Engaging safety locks will block all attempts to join a meeting from anonymous users (users not logged in through a Google Account), and enforce the requirement that the host joins first.

  • Host moderation controls:Educators can control the level of participant interactivity in the meeting. The chat lock and present lock will let hosts control which attendees can chat and present content within the meeting. Educators can also access these controls on mobile devices. 

  • End a meeting for all participants:Prevents students from staying on after the teacher has left — including in breakout rooms.

How does Meet help keep my child engaged during class?

Over the past year, we’ve launched a number of features to help engage students by bringing some of in-classroom magic to the virtual classroom: 

  • Hand raise, to help students indicate if they have a question or want to speak without disrupting the class.

  • Breakout rooms, used by educators to host small group discussions or working time. Teachers can easily jump between the different breakout rooms before bringing everyone back to the main discussion. 

  • Q&A, allowing students to submit and upvote questions from the teacher for better group engagement.

  • Polls, used by educators to quickly gather feedback from their students, oftentimes using it to identify topics that need more discussion or to test comprehension of a certain topic. 

  • Captions, allowing participants to follow along with live closed captions in Meet. Captions are now available in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

  • Tile view in mobile, allowing you to see up to 48 people on a screen when using a mobile device or a tablet. 

  • Customizable backgrounds, to let students and teachers express themselves creatively while in class, and background blur to help reduce background distractions and keep the focus on the participant.

  • Advanced safety locks, to block anonymous users from joining and let teachers control who can chat and present in a meeting. We will launch more controls in the upcoming weeks, like muting all, and ending meetings for everyone.

An animation showing how Breakout Rooms work in Meet.

What’s new in Google Meet?

There are a number of new features we’ve launched in the last couple of months to enhance the learning experience:

  • More controls for educators:Educators can now mute everyone on the call at once so they can keep class on track. And coming soon, we’ll be launching new settings for school leaders to set policies for who can join their school’s video calls, and whether people from their school can join video calls from other schools.  

  • Coming soon, we’ll have Emoji reactions, allowing students to more easily engage and express themselves in Meet.

  • Later this year, Meet will support multiple hosts, making it easier for educators to partner with others helping facilitate the class.

  • Later this year,  meeting transcripts can help students who weren’t able to attend class stay up to date.

An animation showing different colored Meet chat bubbles populating in a transcript.

What additional Meet resources are available to me?

If you have questions or need help, check out our Tech Toolkit video, read our Guardian’s Guide to Google Meet or visit our Help Center page for troubleshooting information. For more tips and resources to help families navigate technology visit families.google. We hope we can continue helping improve the digital education experience and bring parents and guardians along, to support all families through these times.

New features for Chromebook’s 10th birthday

New features for Chromebook's 10th birthday

Chromebooks launched 10 years ago with a vision to rethink computing by designing a secure, easy-to-use laptop that becomes faster and more intelligent over time. As more and more people began using devices running Chrome OS, we evolved and expanded the platform to meet their diverse needs. 

Today, Chrome OS devices do everything from helping people get things done to entertaining them while they unwind. But we want to do more to provide a powerfully simple computing experience to the millions of people who use Chromebooks. We’re celebrating 10 years of Chromebooks with plenty of new features to bring our vision to life. 

Move between devices with ease

More and more people are living in a world where they use multiple devices to work, keep in touch with loved ones and watch shows and movies. Today, we’re launching two solutions that help your Chromebook and Android phone work better together. 

With Phone Hub, you now have a built-in control center that brings key capabilities from your Android phone to your Chromebook. Receive a text but your phone is out of reach? No problem. Respond to that message, check your phone’s battery life and cellular signal, turn on its hotspot and even locate it, all from your Chromebook. Phone Hub also shows the Chrome browser tabs you last opened on your Android phone, so you can pick up right where you left off. 

Phone Hub

We've also extended Wi-Fi Sync to work with more devices, making it easier and faster to get online. Your Chromebook can now automatically connect to trusted Wi-Fi networks you’ve used on your Android phone and other Chrome OS devices when signed in with the same Google Account — no need to enter in the credentials again.

In the coming months, you’ll also be able to use Nearby Share to instantly and securely share files between your Chromebook and other Chrome OS or Android devices. Nearby Share lets you send and receive without sharing contact details, so your information and files stay private. 

These three features are just the beginning of the work we’re doing to bring Google helpfulness to more devices in your life. Stay tuned for more feature releases this year that help your devices work better together.

New features to get things done fast

We’ve redesigned key parts of the Chromebook experience based on your feedback and added new features that make it easy to get things done fast, so you can focus on your work, not your tools.

Quicker access to what’s important 

The new Screen Capture tool in your Quick Settings menu lets you take precise screenshots and screen recordings without needing to remember keyboard shortcuts. Once you take a screen capture, it’ll instantly show up in Tote, a new space that keeps important files right at your fingertips. Open Tote from your Shelf and you’ll see all your recent downloads, recent screen captures and pinned files. 

Your media controls are also now built directly into the Quick Settings menu, so you’ll always know where to go to play, pause or skip to the next song that you’re playing from the web or an Android app. You can pin this media player directly to your Shelf for immediate access. 

We’ve also streamlined Chromebook setup for parents and guardians to highlight two important tools. Now when parents set up a new Chromebook using their child’s personal Google Account (managed with Family Link), they can immediately add a school account. Their child can then use school apps like Google Classroom while Family Link controls on their device still apply, so parents can supervise while they do homework. They can also assist their child in creating a PIN during setup, so signing in to their Chromebook is easier. 

Save time as you tackle your daily tasks

With its new Clipboard, your Chromebook saves the last five items copied so you can easily paste any or all to a new page without needing to switch between windows. Just press the Everything Button + V to use your Clipboard.

There’s also Quick Answers, which automatically offers helpful information — like a definition, a translation or unit conversion — when you right-click a word. No need to open a separate tab to search for the answer. 

We’ve supercharged Desks with enhancements to help you organize your workspace. Now when you reboot, all your windows will restore to their previous desks so your workflow isn’t interrupted. Right-click at the top of a window to send it directly to one or all desks, and swipe across your trackpad with four fingers to switch between desks. To get started with Desks, open Overview mode and create a new desk.

Helpful updates to existing features

Aside from new features, we’ve also enhanced several existing ones. For instance, you can now share files, images and links between apps in fewer steps. When you click “share” on a supported app or website, you’ll see a list of apps you can share content with directly. For example, you'll be able to share an image from your Files app to the Microsoft Word app, with just a few clicks.

Select-to-speak, which enables you to hear text read out loud, also has new controls that let you speed up, slow down and pause the reading voice in real-time, and easily jump to different sections of text. These are especially helpful for people with low vision and specific learning or print disabilities. 

Last but certainly not least, the small things matter just as much as the big ones. The icons for your Chromebook’s built-in apps have a fresh new look, making it easier for you to find essential apps made for Chrome OS like Canvas and Explore.

Visit our website for more details about these features. We’re grateful to be celebrating this milestone, and we hope these launches help you get even more out of your Chromebook. 

Google TV for everyone in the family

It’s Saturday morning and my son is pointing at the TV, cheerful as ever. The “You’re Welcome” music video from Disney’s “Moana” is playing for the tenth time. As a new father, I’m always thinking about the role technology will play in my children’s lives. From Google Kids Space on select Android tablets to teacher-approved apps in Google Play, we’ve already made a lot of progress in helping our kids explore online, but the work isn’t over.

That’s why today, we’re taking our first step in delivering family features on Google TV with the introduction of kids profiles. Setting up a profile for each of your kids is easy: You can add an existing Google account for a child or create a new profile with just their name and age.

With Google TV, we thought about what families need from the biggest screen in the house. I personally want to be able to find my shows and movies, without being overwhelmed by my kids' content. At the same time, I want to be able to manage my kids’ screen time and know that what they’re watching is appropriate for them. Read on for some of my favorite features of kids profiles.

TV — for you and your kids

Parents will be able to pick which apps to add to their child’s profile. Kids profiles will feature rows with recommendations from kid-friendly apps, so your kids can easily find what to watch. And with Google Play Family Library, you can share access to TV shows and movies you’ve already purchased on other devices (“Moana” on repeat is absolutely an option).

Kids profile on Google TV

Kids profiles on Google TV are designed with young viewers in mind and feature bright colors and fun illustrations. The backdrop can be customized to a kid-friendly theme — like “Under the sea,” “Dinosaur jungle” or “Space travel.” In the coming weeks, we’ll also be introducing avatars so your kids can pick a profile picture based on their interests.

Theme selector

Screen time management

“It’s time to turn off the TV” is often met with moans and groans. With on-screen parental controls, you’ll be able to manage your kids’ screen time by setting daily watch limits and a bedtime schedule. When it’s almost time to turn off the TV, your kids will be greeted with three countdown warning signs before a final “Time is up” screen appears and ends their watch time. (And you’ll  always have the option to add some extra bonus time when it’s not a school night.) To prevent your kids from switching to your profile, you can turn on profile lock so only you can make changes with your PIN.

Screen time limits

You can also manage some content controls on Google TV right from the Family Link app to help make sure your child’s TV time aligns with the digital ground rules you set for your family across devices, such as their Android phone or Chromebook. From your phone, you can see how much time your kids are spending in their favorite apps, block and unblock apps, control app activity and more. 

Support for kids profiles on Google TV will roll out on Chromecast with Google TV and other Google TV devices in the U.S. starting this month, and globally over the next few months. The TV is the largest, shared screen in the home — and we plan on finding more and more ways to make Google TV work for the whole family. Stay tuned!

The best of Google, now in new devices

Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, technology should work for you. This week during a virtual CES and Galaxy Unpacked, we were introduced to a lineup of new products that do exactly that, all with the best of Google built in.

Whether you're heading out or staying in, there's something new for you to get excited about.

When you’re on the go

The new Galaxy S21 series comes with a more cohesive Android experience and updates that make it easier to stay in touch with friends and family. From your phone, you can now mirror Google Duo to your Samsung TV, so video calls feel a little more like the real thing. With the Messages app, you can use Rich Communication Services (RCS) to chat over Wi-Fi, know when messages are read, share reactions as well as high resolution videos, and enjoy a more dynamic communication experience with features such as Smart Actions and spam protection (varies by carrier and market availability). A single swipe from your home screen will give you the option for personalized content with Discover, while our screen reader TalkBack has been revamped so that people with blindness or trouble seeing their displays can use spoken feedback and gestures to navigate their phone without having to look at the screen (varies by carrier and market availability).

We’re also working with Samsung to make it easier to manage smart home products from your device. You can control Nest devices, like Nest thermostats, cameras and doorbells, from the SmartThings app on Galaxy smartphones and tablets. See all your connected devices on one screen by tapping on "Devices" in the Quick Panel of the Galaxy S21. Starting next week, SmartThings will also be available in Android Auto, so you can do things like turn off your kitchen lights from your car’s display as you pull out of the driveway.

For parents who want a productive tablet that can easily be shared with their kids, the new Lenovo Tab P11 comes with Kids Space, our new kids mode that features recommended apps, books and videos to help kids under 9 learn and have fun. 

And to get help from your wrist, new Wear OS by Google smartwatches keep you connected wherever you are. For Android phone users in the U.S., you can send texts and make calls on Fossil's Gen 5 LTE Touchscreen Smartwatch without your phone. And Michael Kors Access Gen 5E MKGO and Gen 5E Darci smartwatches are a fashionable option for keeping track of your health and wellness, staying in touch with friends and family and even making payments.

You’ll even be able to leave your phone in your pocket when you’re outside. New headphones, including the JBL Tour ONE and Tour Pro+ and Kenwood WS-A1G come with help from Google. Simply press the earbud to send a message, access your calendar or change songs.

Of course, for those times when you’re perfectly happy...

Hanging out at home

Google TV will be available on 2021 smart TVs from Sony and TCL. Google TV is a new entertainment experience that brings together movies, shows, live TV and more from across your apps and subscriptions and organizes them just for you. You can ask “Hey Google, find action movies” or “show me sci-fi adventure TV shows” and browse a wide selection of content with your voice. In fact your voice can be used in all sorts of ways: Your LG TV (from 2019 models) can now be controlled by a Google-enabled smart speaker in 15 countries and six languages. You will also soon be able to control your Verizon Fios set top box by voice when connected with a Google-enabled smart speaker or Smart Display. And to do more on your TV, you can stay connected with your loved ones with one-on-one or group video calls with the Duo app on Samsung TV (an optional USB-camera needed).

New connected lights from LIFX, Nanoleaf and Yeelight now work with Hey Google. These new devices support Seamless setup, which makes it possible to connect compatible smart home devices directly through the Google Home app and a Nest speaker or Smart Display without the need for an additional hub or bridge. 

If you’re looking for an assist with cleaning up around the house, you can just say “Hey Google” to control the Smart MEDION’s vacuum cleaner MD 19601. To help more manufacturers bring voice capabilities like this to their smart home devices, we also recently launched the Authorized Solution Provider program. Our certified partners Tuya and CoolKit can now help manufacturers  build smart home Actions for Google Assistant. 

Whatever new device you pick out, Google will be there to help you get things done and get the most of your tech.

Source: Android

Santa’s Village is back, firing on all candy canes

The life of an elf is all about working from home, rolling your eyes at sugar substitutes, and being very, very excited about the comings and goings of packages! This year many of us got an unexpected taste of Elf Living—candy binges, living where you work, delivery enthusiasm, and all. And for those of us asking, “Why as the year winds down do I just feel more and more jolly???” (that’s all of us, right?) … The answer is rolling in behindeightnine tiny reindeer!

Santa's sleigh in front of the moon

Little known fact: On top of guiding the way, the addition of Rudolph as the ninth reindeer improved overall "sleigh velocity"--allowing Santa to reach more homes and keep up with world population growth.

For the rest of the season, whenever you search for “Santa” or “Christmas” on Google, you’ll see a familiar red hat on the results page. Click on it and hold on for deer life as you fly off to Santa’s Village. Starting on December 24, you can follow Santa on his journey around the world with Santa Tracker. Until then, help Santa prepare for his trip around the world in Santa’s Village.

Before the big night, keep up with the North Pole from around the world

You can keep track of what’s happening in the world’s coolest spot with your Google Assistant. Just say, “Hey Google, what’s new at the North Pole?” to get updates from the elves via the North Pole Newscast. You can also find out how the world’s getting ready for Santa’s ride by checking out the latest holiday searches. “What do elves eat?” and “Write a letter to Santa” are both up over 5,000 percent worldwide over the past month—and the United Kingdom takes the (fruit)cake for the most searches for “Santa Claus.”

Santa and Mrs. Claus overseeing preparations.

Santa and Mrs. Claus overseeing preparations.

Help get Santa’s elves ready for loading up his sleigh with Elf Maker

After 1,740 magical years at the North Pole, elves know a thing or two about being on ice while sharing the Yuletide joy...but this year they’ll need your help getting Santa’s sleigh ready. Families around the world can help the elves get ready to export the cheer with Elf Maker, which lets you create your own elves. The elves will then be ready to load Santa’s sleigh for the big night!

Help Santa practice for his trip with Present Drop

The love and concern people showed for each other in 2020 inspired Santa. This year, Santa’s “Nice List” broke all records as millions of people and small businesses around the world tried new things and used digital tools to keep each other safe and their communities going. Santa noticed! This year you can help him get ready for the big day with a practice delivery (that also practices social distancing) using Present Drop, which lets you drop packages into chimneys.

Elves helping Santa drop presents

Help Santa practice with Present Drop

Be visited by the artworks of Christmas Past (and color them)

For some festive fun, Google Arts & Culture created a special edition of its coloring book, featuring cheerful coloring activities for children and families. When you  search for “Santa” or “Christmas” on Google, you’ll find a link to explore some classic artworks.

Follow the search for Santa around the world

After helping out in Santa’s Village, it’s time to put out the milk and cookies and refresh the Trends page to see which parts of the world are reporting reindeer sightings. Notice a sudden spike in “reindeer food” for the month of December? That gives you an idea of how many carrots Santa’s reindeer are eating in preparation for the big flight (hint: it’s a lot, pulling that sleigh requires energy!). And with a 300 percent increase in searches for “Where is Santa right now?” we know people around the world will be listening for the sound of silver bells this week. 

So before you turn in for the night, follow Santa’s progress on his journey as he checks off the longest nice list in history.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

A more helpful Google for families this holiday season

As the holidays approach and hopefully bring some much-deserved rest, I've been reflecting on the things we built this year to help families.

We launched teacher-approved apps on Google Play and Kids Space on tablets, both of which help parents and kids find quality content to help them learn, play and grow. We also launched family mode on Duo to keep kids entertained while on video calls with loved ones. And we introduced a host of smart home features for back-to-schoolseason. But the year isn’t quite over—Google Assistant and Google Fi are closing out 2020 with a few new tools for families. 

Say "Hey Google" for ways to keep your family organized at home 

Families turn to Google Assistant for help each day—particularly on Nest Hub Max and other Smart Displays. And just in time for the holidays, we’re adding new features that make it easier to stay on track, entertained and connected with the people they love. With new Family Notes starting to roll out today, you can create digital sticky notes to centralize chores and to-dos so everyone stays on track. Just say, “Hey Google, leave a family note that says defrost the pie,” or “Hey Google, leave a family note that says we’re out of wrapping paper.” 

Family Notes

Family Bell has become a popular way to keep organized throughout the day. And now we’ve added new sound effects and suggested bells on smart speakers and Smart Displays, so your family can get scheduled reminders to start chores, unleash your creativity with art or enjoy quality time together. Simply create a bell by tapping on Family Bell in your Assistant settings, or say, “Hey Google, create a Family Bell.” In the coming weeks, we’ll also add the ability to pause your bells for a single day—or while you're enjoying time off from work or school.

If you’re looking for new activities to try together at home, try asking, “Hey Google, what can I learn with my family?” and choose from one of the learning activities shown on your Smart Display. With content from providers like ABCmouse, you’re sure to find something to enjoy. And be sure to ask, “Hey Google, tell me about the animal of the day” to hear fun facts about a new animal every day, listen to the sound each animal makes and try out the daily creative challenge, like drawing the animal in its natural habitat.

Learning Hub

For families with kids under 13, parents should watch YouTube content together with their kids.

Plus, we’ve added a new “interactive” story category on Smart Displays and phones, so your favorite stories come to life when you say, “Hey Google, tell me a story.” With new interactive stories from Noggin, Capstone and more, you can now flip through pages, decide how the story unfolds, follow along word-by-word and enjoy animations.

Tell me a story

To help families stay connected this holiday season, Assistant users aged 13 and above can now get an easy update on their family’s whereabouts with help from Life360 and Google Maps. Just ask, “Hey Google, where’s my family?” or ask for someone by name by saying,  “Hey Google, where’s Mark?” This feature is now available on Google Assistant-enabled devices including smart speakers (like the new Nest Audio), Smart Displays and Android and iOS phones.


With their parent's permission, children under 13 (or the applicable age in their country) can have a personalized Google Assistant experience when they log in with their own account, powered by Family Link. And finally, to make it easier to find all of these new features, families will soon be able to quickly access these different tools in one central place within the new “Family” tab on Smart Displays. Keep an eye out as this starts to roll out later this year.

Family tab on Stargazer

Manage phone habits and stay safer with Fi

It’s important to be able to manage your household's tech use, no matter the time of year. During the holidays, your family might be on their phones playing and staying connected with loved ones more than usual. To help everyone stay safer on their phones and build healthy digital habits, Google Fi is rolling out new family features over the next week. These features come included with all Fi plans at no extra cost. 

On Fi, you can block strangers from calling and texting your child on their Android phone by only allowing saved and recent contacts to reach them.

Block calls and text

You can also set a data budget to decide how much data your child can use before it slows down. This not only helps your family practice healthy tech use, but also makes it easier to manage how much you spend on data each month if you’re on the Fi Flexible plan and only pay for the data you use. Being on the Flexible plan can help you reduce your monthly expenses even more if your family spends a lot of time on home Wi-Fi. 

Data budget

We’ve also made it easier to set up Family Link from the Fi app on your child’s Android phone. With Family Link, you can establish digital ground rules like set content filters, limit screen time and manage app downloads. 

Family Link

You can learn more about Google Fi family features on the Fi website. If you’re getting started, you can bring a phone you already own or get a new phone on Fi that fits your budget. Currently, Fi is offering a free Moto G phone after $100 off and up to $199 in Fi credit when you join or add a member to your group plan.

We hope you’ll find these tools useful as the year winds down. Staying connected and creating healthy tech habits are both important, and we’re happy to be a part of helping your family do both over the holidays.

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.