Google makes a diagnosis of our addiction to smartphones, prescribes chill-pill

Google's digital health dashboard is designed to reduce unnecessary phone usage

Now that the big names in technology are beginning to recognize the impact their products have had on our mental well-being, we are now starting to see the Google and Apple release tools that address these issues directly.

In an Android blog post titled "The search for JOMO", Google revealed the results of a recently published long-term study on "excessive use of smartphones and healthy decoupling".

The researchers found that, regardless of age, culture or gender, "mobile devices loaded with social media, e-mail and news apps created a constant sense of commitment and generated unintended personal stress."

The results showed that this stress was due both to the addictive nature of the devices and to the apps they carry, as well as to the external and social obligation to constantly come into contact and to respond as expected.

Although planned disconnections of devices were beneficial to reduce this stress, the study found that when it was out of the control of a user (such as an empty battery), they experienced further stress due to FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

Google's digital health dashboard is designed to reduce unnecessary phone usage

Remedial approaches

Finally, Google threw down its research to find three approaches to replacing FOMO with JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out), to facilitate disconnection, reduce the temptation to re-intervene and enable partial disconnection.

The first remedy is to suggest users tools that can reflect themselves in their phone usage, allowing them to ideally compare their intended use with the time they actually spend on their devices.

The second involves adding an extra step that the user must take to open problem apps – the idea is that even a small inconvenience can keep the user from involuntarily going into diversion, giving time to think about their intent.

Finally, the idea of ​​partial disconnection recognizes that telephones still have immense utility in today's society and that it is impractical to abandon them completely. As such, essential functions and functions must be easily accessible while distracting and addictive apps must be limited and limited.

The surf and fixers

Google conveniently states that several of its existing and upcoming features are checking these boxes – Android 9's Digital Wellbeing dashboard, YouTube's Time Watched profile and parental controls such as Family Link fit perfectly with these solutions.

Although it seems suspicious that a creator of one of the problematic systems now offers solutions that happen to exist within the same system, the fact that giants such as Google and Apple (with their equivalent for digital well-being – Screen time) begin to recognize, take address and take responsibility. the problem is encouraging.

"We have a responsibility for it […] giving people a way to regain their time and do not feel bound to their devices, "says Google." Technology should improve your life instead of distracting it. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the first step in bringing JOMO into people's lives is to start listening. "

Since Google promises "much more" to address the problems of overuse of smartphones, we can only wait and see how authentic their situation really is.