Google aims to improve ‘Digital Wellbeing’ by reminding users to disconnect on occasion

Google aims to improve ‘Digital Wellbeing’ by reminding users to disconnect on occasion
Credit: Google

At its I/O conference in San Francisco, Google today announced a new initiative to improve the digital wellbeing of its users by helping to understand their online habits, and learn when it’s time to switch off.

Digital Wellbeing is an initiative meant to temper the negative effects tech — Google’s tech, specifically — can have on our daily lives. According to the Digital Wellbeing site, which launched today:

We’re creating tools and features that help people better understand their tech usage, focus on what matters most, disconnect when needed, and create healthy habits for the whole family.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai highlighted the increasing need for digital users to be on their devices, either from social pressure to respond to messages, or from the all-consuming fear of missing out. Pichai said Google wanted to take responsibility for its effect on users’ digital sanity by offering them tools for tracking their own movements.

For Android users, Google is introducing a dashboard which breaks down how you spend your day on your phone — down to how many times you unlocked your phone and how many notifications you got. Based on this, you can choose to forcibly limit how much time you spend in apps with a timer which locks you out of the app when you reach your limit.

YouTube will also pitch by reminding users to take breaks after long viewing periods. It’ll also offer a once-a-day notifications digest, which condenses all of that day’s YouTube notifications into one to cut down on the pandemic of users constantly checking their phones.

Finally, Pichai announced “Be Internet Awesome,” a Google-designed game which teaches kids how to navigate the internet safely and with kindness towards other users.

All of Google’s Digital Wellbeing features will roll out this week.

Check out our event page for more Google I/O stories this week, or follow our reporters on the ground until the event wraps on Thursday: @bryanclark and @mrgreene1977

Read next: Android launches Shush and Wind Down, to keep your phone off when it needs to be off