We had a very busy summer, but school is back in now. It's time to get back on schedule to keep everyone on track. As a parent, one of the things that I worry about is my kids maintaining a balanced lifestyle. In this age of tech and social media it is easy to get caught up in the “always on” lifestyle… always checking social media, always checking email, always taking pictures. Google realizes that this is not always healthy for families. Whether you are looking to help your family unplug, or looking for Android parental controls, Google's digital wellbeing initiative can help your family keep a healthy balance of online and IRL (in real life) time.
My girls are 16 and my boys are 13. This means that they have grown up being connected. They are used to smartphones, laptops, tablets, and now smart home devices. This means that at any time, anywhere they can be connected. This is very different than when I was their age. To have fun we had to actually go outside and play. We rode bikes, played games, went to the park, or played with toys. Kids don't do this enough now.
Digital Wellbeing can help by encouraging us to unplug more often. Tools to help are built-in to products such as Android, Google Assistant, Gmail, Family Link, and YouTube.
I spend a lot of time in my Gmail. For me, email is money! However, it's easy to miss important emails, get caught up in newsletters, and file things away to deal with later and then forget! Because of this I can end up spending a lot of time catching up with email. Gmail includes several tools that can help. I recently started using the Snooze feature which I love! I can snooze an email to a later time to pop up at the top of my inbox so that I don't forget to act on it.
Digital Wellbeing tools include high-priority notifications. This means you can get alerts for only important emails. That way you are less tempted to look at your phone constantly, plus this will limit the drain on your battery since your phone is receiving less notifications. How did I not know about this? This is awesome and I am turning it on right now! Want to try it? In your Gmail app click on Menu, then Settings. Choose your account and click on Notifications. Choose High Priority Only.
Need some time away for vacation or just to unplug? Create an out-of-office auto reply. This lets folks know that you are away from email, or even just really busy and it may take a while for you to respond to their message.
Android's Digital Wellbeing is available on all Google branded smartphones, and some other smartphones. It includes tools that give you an overview of the time you are spending on your phone, what apps you are using, and even the number of notifications you have received.
One of my favorite features is Wind Down. Wind Down forces you to put down your phone and get some rest by changing your screen and reminding you that it's bedtime. Night Light tints your screen and makes it easier to see in dim lighting. Do Not Disturb, which I use every night, mutes notifications so you can not tempted to pick up your phone, and you are not disturbed while sleeping.
Do your kids spend a lot of time on YouTube? Mine do. Gone are the days when we had to pick up books to find out how to do something. Now, kids just head to YouTube. YouTube is full of crochet tutorials, hair tutorials, how to's on DIY projects, or just fun videos.
If your kids are young, YouTube Kids allows you to create an environment of safe watching along with setting a timer so kids don't spend too much time watching videos.
Family Link App from Google
I recently told you about Family Link and the awesome tools that it includes to keep your children safe on the Internet, and making sure they keep a safe balance of screen time and time away from their phones. It also includes useful parental controls, so that young eyes don't see inappropriate content.
Works on Google Nest Hubs
If you have Google Nest Hubs in your home, like I do, Google's digital wellbeing can be setup to work with them too! My boys have one in their room so that they can easily turn the light off and one from bed, ask the weather before getting dressed, and more. However, I don't want them talking to Google in the middle of the night. Digital Wellbeing allows us to setup a bedtime so that they cannot use their Hub after a certain time.
These are just a few of the ways that Google's digital wellbeing tools can help your kids maintain a balance of screen time with their devices. Visit wellbeing.google for more information.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Google. All opinions are my own.