I Tried Google’s “Digital Wellbeing” Apps. Do I Feel Better?


Obsessed with your phone? You’re not the only one. Google has launched a series of “Digital Wellbeing Experiments”: apps and tools designed to help solve the problem of our unhealthy relationship with our smartphone. If the experiments can actually improve our digital wellbeing, they could prove useful as a way for businesses to encourage employee health, wellness, and engagement. But do Google’s apps work? I gave them a try to find out.


JESSE, EDITOR/ANIMATOR: So, chances are you spend a ton of time on your Smartphone. And you’re probably watching this video from your phone right now.

To fix this, Google has designed a series of digital wellbeing apps to sort of like take us off our phones. So, there are 6 of these apps – I am going to give three of them a try, and let you know how it goes.

The idea behind these Digital Wellbeing Experiments is to enable customers spend less time on their phonemeby make better use of the time they do spend on it. Price Waterhouse Coopers did a study with USC: they found that employees who engaged in healthy habits reporter the perception of better client relationships, a belief in improved team dynamics, lower levels of burnout, and a stronger intention to remain with the organization.

And if his experiments work, they could be a great way for businesses to encourage employee wellness. The first one I am going to try is the Paper Phone, which basically creates paper version of all the essentials that you have on your phone.

So basically, you go through and you select these items that you want, and Google will compile them into a PDF. You print it off, fold it up, and you have this little paper phone that you carry around.

So, I got my phone printed off. Maybeits folded right, maybe it’s not… I can’t really tell. But I’m going to head of the coffee shop and put the map to work. So, here we go! I really hope I don’t get lost, because it would be terrifying to actually have to talk to somebody to ask for directions here.

So I like the paper phone, it was interesting. I’m not sure if I printed off or folded it right. I wish the instructions were little more intuitive, but otherwise, I thought it was pretty wild.

It didn’t help with my digital wellbeing so far as like, just condensing your phone down to some basic elements, and you’re not carrying your phone around, I guess. You’re leaving your phone at home, which is cool. I am curious to see how a few of these other experiments go, and see a different outcome.

So on to the next one. So just woke up and today I’m going to try Post Box. So, this one will suppress all my notifications so I don’t get my phone buzzing throughout the day.

You pick a designated time and that’s when all you notifications will be delivered to you. So, I think this could be a good one to minimize distractions and sort of allow me to stay focused. We’ll see how it goes.

So I really like Post Box. It was super effective; I was able to children a day, get work done, not get distracted by my phone. But I just wish the execution was a little bit better.

If they gave me an ‘AM’ or ‘PM’ when I set the time and actual date… otherwise, I loved it.

A Gallup study on employee engagement and how it affects business outcomes showed that organizations with higher employee engagement reported increased productivity, profitability and customer ratings.

Basically, companies with more engaged employees outperformed those with less engaged employees. So the next one I’m going to try is called Desert Island.

You basically pick only the essential apps that you need, and you use those for 24 hours. So, for this one I’m going to cut out all my social media apps, no ESPN, I’m just going to go with Google drive and Trello.

And see how this goes. The only way for me to get out is to tap here, this little island with the palm tree icon. So, that’s pretty cool. It turns it into like a “dumb phone”, which I really like. So I’ll check-in with you 24 hours and we’ll check on the progress.

So, I’ve completed the 24 hour Desert Island experiment. The best thing about this one was it forced me to think about, “which apps do I need the most?” and which apps I don’t. You know? I went without you know social media for 24 hours and I didn’t miss it.

So, that’s got me thinking about my relationship with my phone and apps. And that’s something that I think we all need to come to terms with: When does it become toxic? Are these things actually enriching my life? It helps you reassess your relationship with apps and technology, and I think it’s a step in the right direction.



I Tried Google’s “Digital Wellbeing” Apps. Do I Feel Better?

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