Digital Wellbeing

2021-09-01
Digital Wellbeing

Modern technology should improve the quality of life, not take it away from us. At a time when more and more time is spent using mobile phones, any initiatives to reduce it are very valuable. One of them is Digital Wellbeing.

What is Digital Wellbeing?

Digital Wellbeing is designed to facilitate the "disconnection" of users from the network. However, its main idea is not to reduce the time you use your phone, although it can lead to it. The main idea was to make the interaction between the user and the device more efficient and meaningful. Google provides the tools to make your entire operating system smoother, but also the ability to see how many minutes or hours you spend on a given app, with an easy way to add your own limits to make it harder to open it once you've exceeded them.

Which phones support Digital Wellbeing?

Every phone with at least Android Pie has Digital Wellbeing set up and ready to go, including Android One phones and of course Pixel phones. To find Digital Wellbeing, go to Settings and scroll down until you find the appropriate Digital Wellbeing box. After entering them, you will discover even more possibilities of this application.

There you will find a dashboard that will show you a circular graph of all the apps you used that day. Tapping on it will bring up a list of all used applications, classifying them by default according to their screen time. You can also rank them according to the number of notifications received from them and their opening time, which can change the order significantly.

Tapping on a single app shows the breakdown by day or time which is helpful but also allows you to set timers and manage notifications.

How to reduce the time spent in the application?

Thanks to the application counters, you will effectively reduce the time you spend in a given application. After you set the timer, Android keeps track of how long this app has been open during the day and gives you alerts when you approach the preset limit. When exceeded, the application icon is grayed out and the operating system gives a warning that it cannot be opened until the next day. You can undo the timer, of course, but it's a nice way to prevent endless scrolling on social media for example.

Bedtime

The Bedtime idea is quite interesting. Combines the existing Do Not Disturb setting with the existing Night Mode feature and Grayscale Mode that turns the screen monochrome. All of these things - fewer notifications, a warmer screen tone, and black and white images - are meant to make it easier to rest and relax before going to bed.

Limitation of interruptions

Digital Wellbeing means not only reducing your smartphone use, but also less distraction when you're already using it.

One of the main parts of this is managing notifications. The fewer notifications you get, the less likely you are to lose yourself on your phone when you just wanted to check something quickly..

Some notifications, such as phone calls, cannot be turned off, but it's worth delving into the apps that annoy you the most to see if it's worth turning them off partially or completely. Sometimes you just don't need them at all. This applies not only to social media, but also to distracting notifications from games, for example.

Focus mode

Your phone is the source of more entertainment than anything else, but Google has implemented focus mode to help you concentrate.

Enter the Settings app. Then scroll down and tap on Digital Wellbeing & Parental Controls. Go to the Ways to Disconnect section and tap Focus Mode. Select the applications to pause from the list. All the apps on your phone will be displayed with checkboxes next to them. The most used apps will be listed at the top, giving you an idea of which apps you should first opt out of when it's time to get the job done. Tap the box next to each app to pause it, then you can create a schedule by tapping the Turn on now button at the top.

When an app is added to focus mode, it will be grayed out on the home screen. Notifications will also be held for the duration of the restrictions, so nothing will get in the way of your work or study.

Since everyone has to take a break from time to time, Google has made it possible to use these greyed out apps. Tapping the grayed out icon will bring up a pop-up menu with three pause options: 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or 30 minutes. After this time has elapsed, it will return to graying out.

Set up an auto reply when you're not available

Everyone needs a vacation from time to time. If you don't want to be bothered by tons of incoming emails, or you're concerned that you don't have the conditions to let everyone know you're out, you can set up auto-reply. It will be sent every time someone sends you an e-mail. This is a feature that is available in many email applications, but is also available in the Gmail application. It's another way to find your digital balance, this time on vacation.

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