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YouTube introduces Digital Wellbeing

Efforts to end your smart phone obsession are now being rolled out

Digital Wellbeing is a system-wide feature coming to newer Android phones and it allows users to monitor their smart phone usage habits. YouTube is also getting it’s set of digital wellbeing features users will be able to start monitoring statistics such as:

  • Time watched
  • Set reminders to take breaks
  • Set limits on how much time you can watch
  • Reduce notifications from channels you’ve subscribed to
  • Entirely turn of notifications during certain periods

Right now this update is still in beta so it’s available to a select few devices that are running Android 9 Pie. If you’re absolutely obsessed with YouTube and unfortunately you just can’t stop popping into the application and consuming video, you’ll be interested in these time limits that digital wellbeing allows you to set.

What you’ll discover very quickly however is that these time limits are not as effective as one would expect. In the event that you have set a time limit of 35 minutes per day, once you exceed the limit all you get is a reminder that you have exceed the limit. You are not locked out until the next day or even for a few hours. You can just dismiss the notification and continue watching.

Of course, this reminder is necessary and it makes you conscious of the fact that you’ve watched ‘enough’ videos and for some it may work. For most ,however, I see the default response being “I’ve watched enough video for today… Well, there’s no harm in finishing this one since I had already started watching”, and users will keep watching.

Google would have served people better if in the settings they allowed users to set limits according to levels. A low-level limit would just remind you that you’ve watched too much video content for the day and users could then decide what to do next. A medium-level limit would tell you that you’ve watched enough video and lock you out for a few hours and allow you to focus on other things. A high-level limit would completely lock you out until the next day.

Now, even this approach has its pros and cons as users can simply change the settings, but I think giving users these options would be welcome and would certainly do no harm to the user. YouTube and all the other companies looking at digital wellbeing probably won’t do this ,however, as it will potentially affect their bottom line.

At the end of the day, the more videos people consume on platforms such as YouTube, the more money these entities rake in. This makes it hard for these firms (Facebook is doing it too) to aggressively chase user wellbeing, when that wellbeing = less revenue.

At the end of the day Apple and Google have bowed to pressure, as media coverage of smart phone obsession has been steadily rising over the past few years. Doing absolutely nothing would be risky and so they have resorted to doing the bare minimum.

It will be interesting to see the impact these wellbeing features have. Maybe I am entirely wrong and just having the usage stats of how much time you are spending on your device will scare the crap out of you and force you to change those habits. It’s a good first step but I’m largely of the feeling that these wellbeing features won’t actually end up having the desired effect.

Source – techzim

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Tasha Mangachena

I am a king. I am a lovechild. I am a woman. I am the future. And i love computers.

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