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MotoTalks Podcast - Episode 2, Part 2: Digital Wellbeing

In Part 2 of this month’s two-part series, MotoTalks co-hosts and special guest Kate Lockhart, Google's Content Strategist for Digital Wellbeing, continue their conversation on digital wellbeing and technology mindfulness. This episode takes a deeper dive into:
  • The tools families rely on to manage and balance digital use (00:30)
  • How the pandemic has impacted the way we interact with our smartphones (8:20)


Chris Francica - 0:06

Welcome back to Moto Talks Episode Two. You're tuning into part two of our discussion with Kate Lockhart, Google's digital wellbeing content specialist. In this next section, we chat about why families are relying more and more on tools for managing their digital lives, as well as how the pandemic has impacted the way we interact with our smartphones.

So okay, one of the things you mentioned earlier was that families are one of the really important targets for some of these digital wellbeing initiatives. We actually just read, were reading, one of Google's studies that came out recently that found that three in five parents allowed to increase screen time for their children over the past year, since of course, we know many children turn to online services for education and entertainment. Doug and I were talking earlier in the podcast about how to balance that type of information you get from your phone between informational content, educational content, and things that are entertainment based. Google also recently announced a new partnership with Headspace to help families actively practice digital mindfulness. So the question for you is, how did that partnership come about? What else are you guys working on together? And how to, how does that fit into the you know, really helping out families?

Kate Lockhart - 1:19

Yeah, so um, yeah, the partnership with Headspace is really exciting. You know, our research, like you mentioned, found that four and five parents are looking for wellbeing and mindfulness content for their kids, which really is astounding to me, it's very exciting to know that there's an appetite for it. And, you know, we're able to find these amazing quality partners to push that forward. Headspace is a company that shares our principles in a really deep way. And so it just made sense for us. It was a natural fit to work together. And in that we decided, or we introduced headspace breathers, and it's new content that helps families practice mindfulness together. So every episode of this headspace breathers feature focuses on the hardships of distance learning. And that really came through in the research for sure, and it doesn't take a lot of reading in the news to understand that that's a big deal. Students are really needing help dealing with the separation from loved ones and friends during Covid-19. And really just needing more positivity in their lives. And these are things that headspace plus Google can help with, and, you know, tech companies around the globe can help with.

So you know, another thing is that families are really struggling with their children's emotions, as a result of those issues. So it's helpful for parents on that side of it to where they're able to directly help and support their children in managing their emotions, but also their own, so that they're more present and less reactive in those moments. So it all-in-all, it's just such a positive experience for families that I think is a huge benefit to all. And yeah, that's that's just one of the features that we focused on for kids and families. I think the family link is probably the most well known. It's a very popular feature that provides parental controls. And this year, because of COVID, new features were launched in order to help get more granular about the controls that they have. So for instance, if kids want to spend five more minutes, five minutes over their allotted scheduled time for screen time, they can just put a request to their parents through the app, and the parents can approve or deny it. So there's a lot more detail in that. But it really does free up a lot of time that family spent negotiating these moments.

Chris Francica - 4:22

I think it's fascinating how, and I was watching some of the episodes from headspace too, that the content is created in a way that's engaging for kids. But all these tools that you're talking about are also equally helpful for the parents as well. There's, there's needs on both sides of the equation there.

Kate Lockhart - 4:40

Yeah, absolutely. I think that's really thoughtful. It is something that we're very aware of is that parents are whole people too. And, and so when we say parents, we're not saying people that are dealing with children or you know, raising children, we're saying people And they also have this additional, you know, focus on children and supporting dependence. So, yeah, that is always a focus is to make sure that we're addressing the parent as a whole. And the end that really does transfer to the child as well as the family unit. So it's a win win for everyone.

Doug Michau - 5:26

That sounds exciting. I think I'm gonna have to go check out some of those headspace breathers, they sound very uplifting. So thanks for that, as well. Kate, wanted to ask you, if I may, just personally I mean, over the last year, how has the pandemic really impacted your own digital well being in mindfulness?

Kate Lockhart - 5:44

Yeah, it absolutely has affected me. And it's been a bit ironic being part of the digital wellbeing team and seeing my screentime creep up, increased quite a bit. But you know, as we mentioned before, it's really not so much about screen time, if the quality connections are happening, or the the quality experiences that we're looking for, are happening. And that has been true for me, I've, I've really gotten deep into understanding or thinking about my use of technology is, you know, what do I intend to do when I pick up my phone, you know, just really living the research in a way. And to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of digital communications for my personal life. So I'd much rather be face to face with somebody, maybe jump on the phone. But if, but, you know, during the pandemic, and quarantine, we have not been able to do that. And so now I really appreciate it in a new way. I, I kind of saw it as like, Okay, let me get this done with so that I can get on with my life. But now I realize, okay, this is actually a huge priority for my life, is to connect with the people that I care about. And that's how I do it. And so our family has actually really kind of jumped in with both feet. And we have, we have video calls on a regular basis, we've tried all sorts of games that we can play online together. We've even watched movies together. So that has really changed my idea of what a quality digital experiences are, quality family experience for that matter. And it has, I think, done wonders for my mental well being.

I think I can speak as an introvert. One thing that we noticed in the research is that introverts at first were feeling like actually relieved to be quarantined, because they, they had the reduction and stimulation and interpersonal interactions that they were craving, but the need for connection, interpersonal connection is universal for introverts and extroverts. And it's necessary in one's own style. And that kind of goes back to that thing that we talked about at the very beginning that digital wellbeing is such a personal experience. Right?

Chris Francica - 8:19

Okay, I'm super impressed by your discipline in using the pandemic as a chance to make some positive changes. I think, I I had not, I speak for myself, I, you know, this is something you tried to do, but you've gotten into this kind of new way of doing things and, and things are always busy, right? It doesn't always, you know, not always able to make time, a lot of people regardless of whether they're thinking about it had been forced into these different behavioral patterns and different ways of doing things. So looking ahead, now that we're slowly starting to come out of the pandemic period, and things are opening back up again, we're left kind of with these new and different habits and behaviors. How do you see consumers using technology post pandemic? Do you think there's lasting changes? Do you think there will be some reversion back to how the, how things were before what what's your key takeaways there? Looking forward?

Kate Lockhart - 9:17

Yeah, it's such an interesting question. And one I think most people are really grappling with because there's definitely anxiety about returning to office,for instance, I think, you know, if people are, have mixed emotions about it, it's hard to transition no matter what type of transition it is. And so, so yes, we have been thinking about that a lot. And I think that it's clear that the remote work, life is here to stay. Many companies actually switched to you know, formally to either a hybrid or fully remote work model. So that isn't going to revert anytime soon. And the beauty of that is that the technology, you know, the tools that we're using to do this remote work, are getting are getting improvements almost on a daily basis. So that's something that I think we're just completely skyrocketing in terms of our ability and capacity to work in a remote environment, that it was something that was preventing remote work from being fully adopted prior to the pandemic. So I think that there will be positive aspects of that. And, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm very curious to see how it actually plays. But the remote learning is the same situation, you know, there's been a lot of investments made in the technologies to help students learn remotely. And there's been a lot of problems that people have experienced, especially with younger kids. It clearly there's a lot that needs to be worked out. But at the same time, it is something that's freeing people up in new ways. For instance, people who have less access to educational opportunities now do have more opportunities, maybe they're in a rural environment, where educational opportunities aren't close enough. So there's a lot of and not to mention, if there's caregivers or people with that are differently abled, that where the classroom, the traditional in person, classroom setup is not really conducive to their learning experience, now they have an alternative. So I think that those things are going to continue to flourish and just get refined and improve over time. And hopefully, it'll strike a balance so that it's not an either or proposition. But it's one that's really about what's best for this individual at this time in their lives. And then the other thing that I think is just really important to mention is the equity and product inclusion concerns. And there is no way that you can look at COVID-19 and its impact on society without recognizing equity and inclusion issues and product inclusion. So we've seen that the pandemic has disproportionately affected people of color, and differently abled people, elderly, there's a lot of issues when you start expecting the entire world, essentially, to move online to do most of their daily tasks. There's issues of accessibility, there's issues of literacy, there's issues of navigability, once they're actually online, if they can afford the Wi Fi, if they can afford the devices. So there are so many things that need to be addressed in order to really provide an equitable experience in the tech world that we live in, you know, we're actively exploring how mental well being, and equity and inclusion really impact people's lives, and how tech can help support people in these situations. So I'm very hopeful that we're going to turn this around to a better place as a collective society. And, you know, one of the other things is just that people are more aware, you know, and, and rightly so very much demanding that the products that they interact with on a daily basis work for them and their particular contexts. So, so I don't think it's going away. I think the public appetite for it is only getting stronger, people are getting much more educated on the topic. And hopefully, it'll lead as we have started the work already to greater improvements for everyone.

Chris Francica - 14:07

Yeah, I love the positive message. And I think actually, coincidentally, May is global digital Accessibility Awareness Month. So hopefully, there will be a lot of momentum moving in as things continue to open up.

Thanks so much for joining us for our second moto talks podcast episode. We hope you enjoyed our discussion and we'll put some thought into how you can create better habits and find a greater sense of digital mindfulness this year. I know we had some good takeaways here and we'll do the same thing. If you’re interested for more, check out wellbeing.google! Don't forget, if you're listening to us from the Motorola website, you can also find us on Spotify. So be sure to subscribe. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next month.
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