Google has introduced a new tool for Android users to help them control their screen time called ‘Digital Wellbeing’. The tool is available to all Pixel phones and Android One device owners with Android 9 Pie.
Digital Wellbeing helps users to monitor how much time they spend on a phone with a daily overview. A graphic on the dashboard shows how frequently you use different apps; how many times you unlock your phone and how many notifications you receive.
It has also added an App Timer, which lets you limit the amount of time you spend using your favourite apps. Google has also introduced a ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature that allows you to keep all visual interruptions from appearing on your screen, including notifications.
And you can now activate a ‘Wind Down’ feature that means, come night time, your device will automatically go into ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode.
App Timers let you limit how much time you spend using certain apps, and the Wind Down feature puts your phone into Do Not Disturb mode so the screen fades to grayscale around bedtime. You can also turn on the Do Not Disturb mode when you’re at dinner or talking to friends.- Google: Google Blog Post
Google follows in the footsteps of Apple who introduced a similar feature back in June. ‘Your Time’ on Facebook lets users monitor time spent on their device and apps. The feature also allows you to see how long you spend on Facebook.
Phone addiction has become a serious worry, especially with young adults and children. Digital addiction experts have long warned parents about the potential dangers of excessive smartphone and internet usage.
According to gadget reseller site Bank My Cell, it has been estimated that we check our phones around 47 times a day. that’s 17,155 a year. Include emails through work, Facebook scrolling and Twitter that can represent a sizeable chunk of our lives.
This has led to calls to recognise the dangers for the mental wellbeing of users, especially among the young.
The minute your kid is born you should be concerned about how exposure to technology will affect them. The main thing to think about is your own use of technology and what you’re modelling for your kids.- David Greenfield: Assistant Clinical Professor, University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Apple in particular faced a backlash when two of their major shareholders published an open letter asking for Apple to take a socially responsible approach towards children’s device use. In particular, they cited concerns over mental health problems that come from heavy phone use.
It seems that both Apple and now Google have responded positively to those voices.