Google is concerned with our digital wellbeing

Google I/O took place on May 10th, an annual developer conference held in Mountain View, California. While many different product adaptations for Android were discussed, none were more talked about than ‘digital wellbeing’.

So, what is digital wellbeing? It’s a relatively new movement backed by the tech giants in Silicon Valley, with Google now integrating principles of the philosophy into its Android OS.

The underlying movement is driven by our over-reliance on technology: that our lives are driven by our mobile phones, constantly being bombarded with messages, video, notifications, and that this always-online ethos is contributing to less authentic, in-person social experiences. Essentially, digital wellbeing represents a concerted effort to mitigate the damaging effects of our generation’s addiction to tech. Pretty cleverly, Google even  flipped FOMO (fear of missing out) on its head; coining the term ‘JOMO’ (joy of missing out).

“Helping people with their digital wellbeing is more important to us now than ever” – Sameer Samat, VP of Product Management, Google

Google is now introducing features and tools in its new version of its mobile operating system, called Android P, that purposefully enable users to avoid technology. For example, functions like Dashboard will soon help you understand the frequency that you’re opening an Android tablet or mobile phone, how many times you’ve opened your device, and how many notifications you received. It’ll also let you set time limits on your apps to remind you of your goals of spending less time on your phone. Google will also be adding a ‘do not disturb’ mode, called ‘Shush’. This setting allows people to physically turn over their phones in order to more easily disable pings, vibrations, or any distractions so that we can all be more present in the moment.

All of this sounds great, right? Big tech company that’s concerned with our well being, and they have altruistic intentions to line their pockets enhance the human experience!

Whatever their intentions may be, the digital wellbeing movement is a step in the right direction for all of us. It remains to be seen, whether this will truly result in more meaningful use of technology and limit the amount it distracts us from human interactions.