Tag Archives: families

Girlguiding and Google: technology is for everyone

Technology has always been a huge part of my life. Growing up in the nineties and early noughties, I can’t remember a time without it. From chunky flip phones and CDs, to newer, sleeker gadgets with all sorts of capabilities, technology has changed rapidly and remarkably in my lifetime alone.

But, despite growing up around tech, I — like lots of my female peers — never really felt I could be involved in creating it. This needs to change. Technology can be made by anyone, and is for everyone. We need to make sure that girls and young women have the opportunity to pursue an interest in STEM subjects.

That’s why, as a Ranger and Young Leader within Girlguiding, I’m really excited about Girlguiding’s newly expanded programme with Google which will give nearly 400,000 Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers more opportunities to learn digital skills for their future.

Girls feel STEM is not for them

To encourage more girls and young women to pursue STEM subjects, we need to change attitudes from a very young age. Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey, found in 2021 that 52% of girls aged 11-21 saw STEM subjects as “for boys”. Girls of this age are at a stage where they’re making choices about their future, but sadly, preconceived perceptions are impacting their aspirations.

A third (34%) aged 7 to 21 feel there’s a lack of women role models in STEM. One in five (19%) aged 7 to 10 say girls who are interested in STEM subjects are teased. 27% of girls aged 11 to 21 believe teachers and career advisors often encourage girls to do different subjects to boys.

These numbers really highlight the need for groups like Girlguiding to work with organizations like Google to change this and enable more young people to feel empowered to pursue their interests.

Digital discovery badges

Google and Girlguiding first launched the Google Digital Adventure for Brownies and Digital design badge for Rangers in 2018. More than 15,000 girls have already taken part.

Now, we’re expanding our partnership to give more girls and young women opportunities to learn about concepts like coding and algorithms, with new activities co-created by Google’s women engineers.

The new activities include Happy appy for Rainbows to learn about app designs; Brownie bots to teach Brownies how to write code and fix bugs; Chattermatter to teach Guides about chatbots, and Build-a-phone, which aims to teach Rangers the basic principles of phone design.

The new activities will form part of Girlguiding’s national programme within the Skills for my Future theme. These span all four Girlguiding sections (age groups) and have been created to be completed offline to ensure they are accessible to all girls.

An exciting future for all girls

Our goal — to make sure the next generation of girls and young women are encouraged to pursue STEM subjects — may not happen overnight. But thanks to the Girlguiding and Google partnership, nearly 400,000 girls like me in the UK will get new opportunities to learn the essential skills they need to break through stereotypes and become tech pioneers.

In years to come, I hope to see the Rainbows or Brownies of today on the front cover of a newspaper showing off their incredible discoveries and inventions. Alongside Google, Girlguiding is working to help build a future where more girls and young women feel empowered to help change the world!

Want to find out more? Read all about the new Google and Girlguiding partnership at www.girlguiding.org.uk.

Santa Claus is coming to town — and we interviewed him

It’s 7 degrees below zero when we step off the Polar Express. There’s a slight breeze that feels almost cryogenic and a loud “crunch!” as our boots hit the snow. But the real first impression of Santa’s Village: the warm familiarity of visiting a place you’ve never been, but is exactly as you imagined.

It’s no secret that Google loves celebrating the holiday season. The Google Arts & Culture team have brought us the warmth of the Festival of Lights and the harmony of Kwanzaa; and they’ve taken us from Norway’s Trafalgar Square to the Christmas Lights of London. And of course, there’s Santa Tracker — with a few related easter eggs from the Search team that appear when users around the world search for “Christmas.”

Maybe all the free press is why this year, we’ve been invited to interview Santa. And perfect timing too: According to Google Trends, searches for “Santa Claus” are on their annual rise.

Thanks for having us! Let’s get started: Traditionally, people have been encouraged to write you letters. Any update on how to get in touch with you?

During the month of December, anyone in the world can use Google Assistant to get in touch with me directly. Just say “Hey Google, Call Santa” and we’ll have a chat, and maybe you can help the elves create a holiday song.”

Santa, have you been working on any North Pole launches lately?

A few! You’ve seen the historical depictions of me, but now you can color your own holiday works with Art Coloring Book. And it’s always fun to sing the songs of the season with your family, but you might want to give it some practice with the Blob Opera beforehand — ho, ho, ho!

Santa on Santa

We know people can call you from their Google Assistant…but you seem pretty busy. Is there a good way to check in without bothering you?

It’s never a bother! But all December we’re bringing back our North Pole Newscast. Just ask your Google Assistant “What’s going on at the North Pole?” and check in with Dimplesticks the Elf for reports from Santa's Village.

You’ve been so generous with your time. Any last thoughts?

Santa’s Village is live and everyone is welcome to join in the fun, and see what Mrs. Claus and the elves are up to! But — biggest of all — kids around the world can start following the Santa Tracker on the big night (December 24), and Google Assistant can help. Just ask, "Hey Google, track Santa" or "Hey Google, where is Santa right now?"

Get festive this holiday season with new Android features

Special delivery! As we head into the busiest time of year, Android is becoming even more helpful with new features that make it a joy to create, capture, relive, and share holiday memories — all while strengthening security and personalization. Let’s take a look at what’s new.

Keep your family on track this season with Family Bell

A split-screen illustration: on the left side, an Android phone displaying the Family Bell selection menu. On the right side, a festively dressed man on his phone is smiling while making waffles and using Family Bell.

Choose which devices you’d like to hear your reminders on in settings

Family Bell helps you and your family stay on track with your daily schedules, wherever you may be. Whether you set up Family Bell on your Android phone, home speaker or smart display, bells and notifications will alert you and your family when it's time for important moments throughout the day — helping you get out the door in the morning, pick up your kids from sports practice or get to bed on schedule. Family members will also be able to set bells on their own devices so they can stay on top of their individual goals too.

For the holidays, suggested bells for new activities include watering a tree, a family movie night or volunteering to support a local cause. Family Bell is always easy to edit, manage and customize from your selected device.

Get more out of your favorite Google apps with widgets

Illustration of an Android Home screen, displaying a large photo of a mother and child from the Google Photos People and Pets widget.

Home screen displaying a photo of a mother and child from the Google Photos People and Pets widget

Widgets make it easier to view the content and information from your favorite Google apps on your Home screen — and we’ve got three new widgets for you to enjoy this holiday season:

  • Keep that holiday reading within easy reach, access your full library of books and even keep track of your audiobook progress with the new Google Play Books widget.
  • Enjoy your favorite holiday tunes with the new YouTube Music widget — it puts playback controls and recently played tracks right on your Home screen.
  • Feel closer to your family, friends, and favorite furballs. Starting to roll out next week, the new Google Photos People & Pets widget puts your family on your Home screen. Simply select a few faces and an appropriate frame, then the widget will do the rest, decorating your Home screen with your nearest and dearest.

Relive festive memories

A cursor taps on a box that says “Happy Birthday”. A 4-year-old girl with blond hair and blue eyes appears in a series of photos with a birthday cake, all memories from a birthday party event.

Look back on great memories with Google Photos.

This week we’re rolling out new Memories in Google Photos that help you look back on the moments you celebrate. These Memories appear in your photo grid and feature a curated selection of photos and videos from holidays like New Year’s Eve or Halloween, to important milestones like birthdays and graduations. And because everyone has their own special traditions, specific controls allow you to rename, personalize, correct or even remove these Memories from your photo grid.

The best of Android, on the road

Whether you're driving home for the holidays or simply going to the store for some last-minute groceries, a suite of updates enhances just how helpful Android can be on the road.

Gif of a car infotainment system displaying and reading out an incoming message from Dad, “Have you left already? Can’t wait to see you.” Options to respond with “on my way”, “no” and “me too!” pop up at the bottom of the screen. “On my way” is selected and sent.

Reply to messages in the car with a tap

You can now set Android Auto to launch automatically when you connect your Android phone to your compatible car to stay connected on every drive. And once you’re on the road, Android Auto helps you get things done so you can stay focused on the road. With smart reply options coming soon, you can respond to a text message more easily with the Google Assistant on Android Auto — simply tap to respond or create a custom message. And you can listen to your favorite music with a single tap of the new always-on play button, right on the Home screen. Coming soon, you’ll be able to use your voice to search for music faster in your media apps on Android Auto. Just tap the new search icon and say your favorite artist or song for easy listening.

Gif of a phone with the lock screen displayed being placed near a car handle to unlock it.

Use your phone as a car key

We also continue to introduce new ways to bring your phone and car closer together. Starting today, you can use your Android phone to lock, unlock and even start your compatible car. Digital car key is now available in select countries on Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy S21 for compatible BMW cars.

App permissions get a privacy boost

Illustration of an Android phone displaying a notification from Google Play Protect that says, “App permissions removed”.

Get notified when app permissions are removed

Remember that mobile game you downloaded a few months ago? Probably not. With permissions auto-reset on Android, your device will automatically turn off runtime permissions—which allow apps to access data or take actions on your behalf—for downloaded apps you haven’t used in a while. You can always turn permissions back on anytime you like, either by opening the app again or through the settings menu. Starting next month, this feature expands support to billions more devices with Google Play services that run Android 6.0 or higher.

Share the love with new Emoji Kitchen combinations

Gif of a cursor selecting the pleading face emoji and the dog emoji to create a pleading dog face sticker

Find the right combination that says how you really feel

Sometimes those end-of-year messages can have you lost for words—and one emoji doesn't always tell the full story. Emoji Kitchen lets you combine emoji into stickers to share with your friends, family, and loved ones. Celebrate the holidays by sharing your favorite emoji in a beautifully wrapped gift box 🎁. Or if you’re more of a dog person, make sure people know it with an all-new collection of furry friends 🐶. With thousands of new additions, Emoji Kitchen is the gift that keeps on giving and a great way to spread a little holiday cheer. The latest stickers are rolling out to Gboard Beta users starting today and will be available to all Gboard users in the coming weeks.

We can't wait for you to try out these new features while you celebrate the holidays. Learn more about each at Android.com.

Get festive this holiday season with new Android features

Special delivery! As we head into the busiest time of year, Android is becoming even more helpful with new features that make it a joy to create, capture, relive, and share holiday memories — all while strengthening security and personalization. Let’s take a look at what’s new.

Keep your family on track this season with Family Bell

A split-screen illustration: on the left side, an Android phone displaying the Family Bell selection menu. On the right side, a festively dressed man on his phone is smiling while making waffles and using Family Bell.

Choose which devices you’d like to hear your reminders on in settings

Family Bell helps you and your family stay on track with your daily schedules, wherever you may be. Whether you set up Family Bell on your Android phone, home speaker or smart display, bells and notifications will alert you and your family when it's time for important moments throughout the day — helping you get out the door in the morning, pick up your kids from sports practice or get to bed on schedule. Family members will also be able to set bells on their own devices so they can stay on top of their individual goals too.

For the holidays, suggested bells for new activities include watering a tree, a family movie night or volunteering to support a local cause. Family Bell is always easy to edit, manage and customize from your selected device.

Get more out of your favorite Google apps with widgets

Illustration of an Android Home screen, displaying a large photo of a mother and child from the Google Photos People and Pets widget.

Home screen displaying a photo of a mother and child from the Google Photos People and Pets widget

Widgets make it easier to view the content and information from your favorite Google apps on your Home screen — and we’ve got three new widgets for you to enjoy this holiday season:

  • Keep that holiday reading within easy reach, access your full library of books and even keep track of your audiobook progress with the new Google Play Books widget.
  • Enjoy your favorite holiday tunes with the new YouTube Music widget — it puts playback controls and recently played tracks right on your Home screen.
  • Feel closer to your family, friends, and favorite furballs. Starting to roll out next week, the new Google Photos People & Pets widget puts your family on your Home screen. Simply select a few faces and an appropriate frame, then the widget will do the rest, decorating your Home screen with your nearest and dearest.

Relive festive memories

A cursor taps on a box that says “Happy Birthday”. A 4-year-old girl with blond hair and blue eyes appears in a series of photos with a birthday cake, all memories from a birthday party event.

Look back on great memories with Google Photos.

This week we’re rolling out new Memories in Google Photos that help you look back on the moments you celebrate. These Memories appear in your photo grid and feature a curated selection of photos and videos from holidays like New Year’s Eve or Halloween, to important milestones like birthdays and graduations. And because everyone has their own special traditions, specific controls allow you to rename, personalize, correct or even remove these Memories from your photo grid.

The best of Android, on the road

Whether you're driving home for the holidays or simply going to the store for some last-minute groceries, a suite of updates enhances just how helpful Android can be on the road.

Gif of a car infotainment system displaying and reading out an incoming message from Dad, “Have you left already? Can’t wait to see you.” Options to respond with “on my way”, “no” and “me too!” pop up at the bottom of the screen. “On my way” is selected and sent.

Reply to messages in the car with a tap

You can now set Android Auto to launch automatically when you connect your Android phone to your compatible car to stay connected on every drive. And once you’re on the road, Android Auto helps you get things done so you can stay focused on the road. With smart reply options coming soon, you can respond to a text message more easily with the Google Assistant on Android Auto — simply tap to respond or create a custom message. And you can listen to your favorite music with a single tap of the new always-on play button, right on the Home screen. Coming soon, you’ll be able to use your voice to search for music faster in your media apps on Android Auto. Just tap the new search icon and say your favorite artist or song for easy listening.

Gif of a phone with the lock screen displayed being placed near a car handle to unlock it.

Use your phone as a car key

We also continue to introduce new ways to bring your phone and car closer together. Starting today, you can use your Android phone to lock, unlock and even start your compatible car. Digital car key is now available in select countries on Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy S21 for compatible BMW cars.

App permissions get a privacy boost

Illustration of an Android phone displaying a notification from Google Play Protect that says, “App permissions removed”.

Get notified when app permissions are removed

Remember that mobile game you downloaded a few months ago? Probably not. With permissions auto-reset on Android, your device will automatically turn off runtime permissions—which allow apps to access data or take actions on your behalf—for downloaded apps you haven’t used in a while. You can always turn permissions back on anytime you like, either by opening the app again or through the settings menu. Starting next month, this feature expands support to billions more devices with Google Play services that run Android 6.0 or higher.

Share the love with new Emoji Kitchen combinations

Gif of a cursor selecting the pleading face emoji and the dog emoji to create a pleading dog face sticker

Find the right combination that says how you really feel

Sometimes those end-of-year messages can have you lost for words—and one emoji doesn't always tell the full story. Emoji Kitchen lets you combine emoji into stickers to share with your friends, family, and loved ones. Celebrate the holidays by sharing your favorite emoji in a beautifully wrapped gift box 🎁. Or if you’re more of a dog person, make sure people know it with an all-new collection of furry friends 🐶. With thousands of new additions, Emoji Kitchen is the gift that keeps on giving and a great way to spread a little holiday cheer. The latest stickers are rolling out to Gboard Beta users starting today and will be available to all Gboard users in the coming weeks.

We can't wait for you to try out these new features while you celebrate the holidays. Learn more about each at Android.com.

Giving kids and teens a safer experience online

We're committed to building products that are secure by default, private by design, and that put people in control. And while our policies don’t allow kids under 13 to create a standard Google account, we’ve worked hard to design enriching product experiences specifically for them, teens, and families. Through Family Link, we allow parents to set up supervised accounts for their children, set screen time limits, and more. Our Be Internet Awesome digital literacy program helps kids learn how to be safe and engaged digital citizens; and our dedicated YouTube Kids app, Kids Space andteacher approved apps in Play offer experiences that are customized for younger audiences.

Technology has helped kids and teens during the pandemic stay in school through lockdowns and maintain connections with family and friends. As kids and teens spend more time online, parents, educators, child safety and privacy experts, and policy makers are rightly concerned about how to keep them safe. We engage with these groups regularly, and share these concerns.

Some countries are implementing regulations in this area, and as we comply with these regulations, we’re looking at ways to develop consistent product experiences and user controls for kids and teens globally. Today, we’re announcing a variety of new policies and updates.

Giving minors more control over their digital footprint

While we already provide a range of removal options for people using Google Search, children are at particular risk when it comes to controlling their imagery on the internet. In the coming weeks, we’ll introduce a new policy that enables anyone under the age of 18, or their parent or guardian, to request the removal of their images from Google Image results. Of course, removing an image from Search doesn’t remove it from the web, but we believe this change will help give young people more control of their images online.

Tailoring product experiences for kids and teens

Some of our most popular products help kids and teens explore their interests, learn more about the world, and connect with friends. We’re committed to constantly making these experiences safer for them. That’s why in the coming weeks and months we're going to make a number of changes to Google Accounts for people under 18:

  • YouTube: We’re going to change the default upload setting to the most private option available for teens ages 13-17. In addition, we’ll more prominently surface digital wellbeing features, and provide safeguards and education about commercial content. Learn more about these changes on the YouTube Blog

    https://blog.youtube/news-and-events/new-safety-and-digital-wellbeing-options-younger-people-youtube-and-youtube-kids/

    .
  • Search:We have a range of systems, tools, and policies that are designed to help people discover content from across the web while not surprising them with mature content they haven’t searched for. One of the protections we offer is SafeSearch, which helps filter out explicit results when enabled and is already on by default for all signed-in users under 13 who have accounts managed by Family Link. In the coming months, we’ll turn SafeSearch on for existing users under 18 and make this the default setting for teens setting up new accounts.
  • Assistant:We’re always working to prevent mature content from surfacing during a child’s experience with Google Assistant on shared devices, and in the coming months we’ll be introducing new default protections. For example, we will apply our SafeSearch technology to the web browser on smart displays.
  • Location History: Location History is a Google account setting that helps make our products more useful. It's already off by default for all accounts, and children with supervised accounts don’t have the option of turning Location History on. Taking this a step further, we’ll soon extend this to users under the age of 18 globally, meaning that Location History will remain off (without the option to turn it on).
  • Play:Building on efforts like content ratings, and our "Teacher-approved apps" for quality kids content, we're launching a new safety section that will let parents know which apps follow our Families policies. Apps will be required to disclose how they use the data they collect in greater detail, making it easier for parents to decide if the app is right for their child before they download it.
  • Google Workspace for Education: As we recently announced, we’re making it much easier for administrators to tailor experiences for their users based on age (such as restricting student activity on YouTube). And to make web browsing safer, K-12 institutions will have SafeSearch technology enabled by default, while switching to Guest Mode and Incognito Mode for web browsing will be turned off by default.

New advertising changes

We’ll be expanding safeguards to prevent age-sensitive ad categories from being shown to teens, and we will block ad targeting based on the age, gender, or interests of people under 18. We’ll start rolling out these updates across our products globally over the coming months. Our goal is to ensure we’re providing additional protections and delivering age-appropriate experiences for ads on Google.


New digital wellbeing tools

In Family Link, parents can set screen time limits and reminders for their kids’ supervised devices. And, on Assistant-enabled smart devices, we give parents control through Digital Wellbeing tools available in the Google Home app. In the coming months, we’ll roll out new Digital Wellbeing filters that allow people to block news, podcasts, and access to webpages on Assistant-enabled smart devices.

On YouTube, we’ll turn on take a break and bedtime reminders and turn off autoplay for users under 18. And, on YouTube Kids we’ll add an autoplay option and turn it off by default to empower parents to make the right choice for their families.


Improving how we communicate our data practices to kids and teens

Data plays an important role in making our products functional and helpful. It’s our job to make it easy for kids and teens to understand what data is being collected, why, and how it is used. Based on research, we’re developing engaging, easy-to-understand materials for young people and their parents to help them better understand our data practices. These resources will begin to roll out globally in the coming months.

Image of the Family Link Privacy Guide for Children and Teens and the Teen Privacy Guide

Transparency Resources: The Family Link Privacy Guide for Children and Teens and the Teen Privacy Guide


Ongoing work and engagement

We regularly engage with kids and teens, parents, governments, industry leaders, and experts in the fields of privacy, child safety, wellbeing and education to design better, safer products for kids and teens. Having an accurate age for a user can be an important element in providing experiences tailored to their needs. Yet, knowing the accurate age of our users across multiple products and surfaces, while at the same time respecting their privacy and ensuring that our services remain accessible, is a complex challenge. It will require input from regulators, lawmakers, industry bodies, technology providers, and others to address it – and to ensure that we all build a safer internet for kids.

Express yourself and connect with others on Chromebooks

Many people this past year used Chromebooks to keep in touch with family and friends, stay entertained and work or learn from home. Today, we’re introducing a few new features that make connecting and communicating with others — on video chat or through text — even easier.

Improved video calls on your Chromebook

With more people now relying on video calls, we’ve improved the experience to help make sure you’ll have smooth conversations on any Chromebook and your favorite app. 

With Chrome OS’s latest update, Google Meet will be pre-installed on all Chromebooks, so it’s easy to launch into the app and get on a video call right from the Launcher. Google Meet includes exciting features, like video backgrounds, that make meetings more inclusive and fun. We’ve also made performance improvements like adapting video calls to different network conditions and adjusting video performance during screen sharing.  

Screen showing a five-person video call in progress on Google Meet.

 The new Google Meet app on Chromebook

Recently we partnered with Zoom to launch an improved version of the app for Chromebooks on the Google Play Store. This new version delivers faster performance, takes up less storage and includes latest features such as breakout rooms, live transcription and a new background masking feature for privacy. 

Plus, you can find other apps for video calling to suit your specific needs. For example, you can connect with teams remotely on Jitsi-Meet or hang out with friends and family on Houseparty. And to make your video calls even better, you can add Works With Chromebook certified accessories to your setup, including web cameras and headsets from partners like Logitech, EPOS and Lenovo.

Express yourself with emoji  👍  

Earlier this month, Google celebrated World Emoji Day by announcing more shareable and inclusive emoji. Now we’ve made it even easier to express yourself with emoji on Chromebooks with a new shortcut and emoji picker.

On your Chromebook, use the new keyboard shortcut (Search or Launcher key + Shift + Space) to bring up the compact emoji picker. From there, you can see your recently used emoji and scroll to discover others. With a click, the perfect emoji is inserted into a conversation, document, or any text field on your Chromebook. 

We’ve also made it easier to search for an emoji (currently only available in English) and view related options. Setting up a calendar invitation for coffee? Open the picker, type “coffee,” then select the emoji you want. ☕️  🤯

The emoji picker is pulled up and shows recently used emoji, the search bar and a scrollable list of emoji to choose from.

Search for emoji then add them to text fields with Chromebook’s new emoji picker.

Keep in touch – from anywhere

Chrome OS now supports eSIM for cellular connectivity. With eSIM, you can download and switch between carrier profiles without having to insert or remove a physical SIM card from your laptop. This will be particularly helpful if you need to connect to a cellular network but can’t run to the store for a SIM card, and for international travelers who frequently switch between networks.

This feature is only available on eSIM-compatible Chromebooks, like the Acer Chromebook Spin 513 and Acer Chromebook 511. To get started on these devices, go to Settings, then "Mobile data" in the "Network" section, and add a connection.

A dialog box prompts a user to take a picture of a QR Code during network setup.

You can use a QR Code to help set up the new cellular network on your Chromebook.

Celebrate togetherness

This month we’re also introducing a new collection of wallpapers from three Black artists, Aurelia Durand, Sabrena Khadija and Meech Boakye. Each artist created wallpapers inspired by the concept of togetherness. Their lively designs reflect connections between family and friends, empowering and uplifting one’s community, and the experience of being in nature. 

To try them out, just right-click your desktop and choose “Set wallpaper,” then select “Togetherness.”

Discover new ways to create and play on your Chromebook

For parents looking to keep their kids entertained and engaged, the Explore app on Chromebooks now includes a digital magazine curated for kids and families. Each issue will be packed with educational apps to help kids discover new ways to create and play on their Chromebooks.

 The first issue focuses on game design, and in addition to suggesting apps to help kids learn how to design and code their own games, it also features an interview with game creator Jesse Schell. Keep an eye out for future updates with more expert interviews and other themes to inspire kids’ creativity.

This digital magazine is currently only available for Family Link users in the United States. Find it in the Explore app, under “Discover.”

A GIF scrolls through the new issue titled “Explore game design on your Chromebook”. It shows a round up of educational apps and games, and has a video with came creator Jesse Schell.

The digital magazine exclusive to Chromebook within the Explore app

We’ll be back soon to share more new Chromebook features. 😎 

Helping kids be safe, confident online explorers

We’ve heard from parents, educators and experts on ways to make technology safer for kids, and we continue to incorporate that feedback into our products. Whether it’s helping them find quality content, working to protect them from online harm or teaching them how to be good digital citizens, we’re committed to building family-friendly tools to help kids safely and confidently explore the online world. 


Launching our new evidence-based Be Internet Awesome curriculum

Four years ago, we launched Be Internet Awesome as a program to help educators and parents teach kids the fundamentals of digital safety and citizenship. Since then, it’s expanded to more than 30 countries in 16 languages and has helped millions of kids around the world make safer, more informed decisions online. It's important to teach kids how to use the internet effectively, as family technology use in and outside of the classroom continues to grow -- and we’re constantly looking for ways to make Be Internet Awesome even better.  


To ensure Be Internet Awesome helps students comprehend online safety and digital citizenship concepts, we commissioned the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center to do a rigorous independent evaluation of our program. The researchers learned that students who went through the Be Internet Awesome program improved their comprehension in areas such as being civil online, understanding which websites are safe and responding more confidently to cyberbullying. The research also recommended opportunities where kids could benefit from more guidance, which we’ve used to update our curriculum.


In partnership with online safety experts like Committee for Children and The Net Safety Collaborative, we’ve significantly expanded the Be Internet Awesome program, including 11 new lessons and more educator and family resources. We’ve developed content tailored to specific age groups and grade levels, included more guidance around online gaming, search engines and video consumption and added social-emotional learning lessons to help students address cyberbullying and online harassment. The program also provides an array of resources for families to help discuss online safety at home. We hope the updated curriculum gives educators and parents an even more helpful tool to teach kids about these important topics.


Navigating the world of online video

Building on our digital safety and citizenship work, we’ve also created more tools and resources to help kids explore the world of online video. For example, on YouTube, we introduced supervised experiences to give parents more choice over content settings and features, including special options for tweens and teens. We’ve also developed a comprehensive family guide and PSA videos as useful starting points for kids and families to learn how to browse and watch video content responsibly. 


To help kids stay informed about what they’re seeing on YouTube, including content with commercial elements, we recently launched a new disclosure feature for all content that a creator has notified us contains paid promotions, when that content is “made for kids” or being viewed on a supervised account. This disclosure appears in easy-to-understand text on the left hand corner of the screen and links to a new family-friendly video and help center article to provide additional information. 


Tools and resources for families

We’ve also created more resources to help families determine how to approach kids’ technology use. Earlier this year, we launched families.google, a one-stop technology hub that includes tips and tools about how to manage tech for your family. In addition, we introduced updates to the Family Link app that lets you set digital ground rules as kids learn, play and explore online. You can now enable your kids to spend time with apps you approve of by designating them as “always allowed,” and see added details via daily, weekly and monthly activity reports. All of this work is designed to equip parents and their kids with the resources they need to foster a healthy relationship with technology in the digital age. 


We want parents and kids to have the tools they need to explore the internet confidently. We are committed to helping protect children online and will continue to share information about our ongoing work in this area. 


Note: The University of New Hampshire’s study used a rigorous cluster randomized controlled trial (CRCT) evaluation methodology. Fourteen elementary schools across the U.S. were randomly assigned to either an intervention condition (Be Internet Awesome implementation) or a control condition (no or delayed Be Internet Awesome implementation). The full paper is currently under peer review.

New ways we’re making Meet calls easier (and more fun)

Almost exactly one year ago, in an effort to help everyone stay connected safely as the pandemic was taking hold, we announced that we were making Google Meet free for everyone. Since then, Meet has helped millions of people connect around the world. While it’s been hard for all of us to remain apart this past year, I’ve been proud to work on a product that’s let so many of us come together.

Helping everyone safely connect and collaborate is what drives us to continue improving Meet — from introducing features that make video calls more inclusive, such as automated live captions in five languages, to controls that create a safer and more dynamic learning environment for educators and students, to new mobile capabilities that promote a more inclusive meeting experience. Today, we’re announcing even more ways that Meet will continue providing you with secure, reliable and engaging meetings, starting with a refreshed look on the web and helpful features built with the latest in artificial intelligence.

A new design that makes it easier to present and engage with others

A presentation being unpinned to view all participants in a 12-person video meeting.

Unpin to make the presentation tile smaller and view all participants.

Starting next month, when viewing and sharing content with any group of people, you’ll have more space to see the content and others’ video feeds through our refreshed new look and improved ability to pin and unpin content. In the coming months, you will be able to pin multiple tiles to customize what you focus on. For example, you can highlight a presentation and the speaker, or multiple speakers at the same time. Participants’ names will always be visible, so you can quickly see who’s who, and better engage with everyone on the call. 

Two speakers pinned during a 16-tile video meeting.

Highlight different speakers and tiles for a better experience.

People have told us they concentrate better and often feel less tired when they don’t see themselves while talking. So we’re making it possible to resize, reposition or hide your own video feed. When doing so, you can use the freed-up space to see even more people on the call.

A participant minimizing their video feed in a 13-person group call.

Minimize your own video feed from view.

High-quality and reliable meetings on any device

We’re continuously investing in new ways to improve your audio and video experience in Meet. To support video calls when you’re on the go, we’re launching Data Saver this month. This feature limits data usage on mobile networks to allow you and the person you’re calling to save on data costs, which is especially important in countries where data costs can be high, like India, Indonesia and Brazil. 


Last year, we introduced low-light mode for Meet on mobile, using artificial intelligence to automatically adjust your video to make you more visible if you’re in a dark environment. Having too much light behind you — such as a window on a sunny day — can also be challenging for many cameras. Now, Google Meet on the web automatically detects when a user appears underexposed and enhances the brightness to improve their visibility. Light adjustment will be rolling out to Meet users everywhere in the coming weeks.
A person in the Green room of Google Meet where their video is brightened by the new Light adjustment feature.

Automatically enhance brightness and improve visibility. 

In addition, we’re introducing another feature powered by AI called Autozoom, which helps others see you more clearly by zooming in and positioning you squarely in front of your camera. Autozoom will be available to Google Workspace (paid) subscribers in the coming months. 

Fun new backgrounds on mobile and web 

Last month, we started rolling out background replace, Q&A and Polls for Meet to Android and iOS devices. In the coming weeks, we’re adding the ability to replace your background with a video. Video background replacement can help you maintain privacy for what’s behind you while also making your video calls more fun. There will initially be three options to choose from: a classroom, a party and a forest, with more on the way soon.

A person video calling using Google Meet with an animated background featuring cartoon characters dancing under a disco ball.

Use a video background to make calls more fun.

When we introduced a free version of Google Meet to the world a year ago, none of us knew just how much we’d come to rely on virtual meetings and gatherings to keep us connected to friends, family, colleagues and classmates. We’re grateful for all the stories and feedback our users and customers have shared along the way, helping us make Google Meet more engaging for everyone. Looking ahead, we’re excited to continue improving the Meet experience to further help in all the ways people connect, collaborate and celebrate.

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.
Devices

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.