How many times during the day do you catch yourself tapping to open up Facebook, only to realize you just closed out of it two seconds ago? What about looking up from letting your Instagram Stories autoplay to find out that you’ve been watching them for an hour? If you’re ever slightly freaked out by how much time you spend mindlessly scrolling, a new feature from Facebook and Instagram might actually help. The social media apps are launching dashboards to help you monitor how much time you spend scrolling on those apps, according to a Facebook blog post.
The new features are called “Your time on Facebook” and “Your activity” on Instagram, and they’ll both be accessible through the “hamburger menu,” aka those three lines that direct you click into different parts of the app. The dashboards will let you check out how much time you’ve spent with the app open (sort of the same way you would check your step count), as well as set a reminder for yourself when you’ve been on the app for a certain period of time. You can also have the dashboard disable your push notifications for a certain period when you need to concentrate, whether that’s fifteen minutes or eight hours. (For what it’s worth, you can always just turn off push notifications altogether, if that’s helpful to you.) The new tools will start rolling out to users over the next few weeks, the Verge reported.
In 2017, Tech Crunch reported that Americans spend around five hours a day on our phones, and much of that time (if you’re anything like me) is likely spent scrolling through the same three apps. Digital wellness has become a bit of a buzzword recently, with tech companies of all kinds implementing tools to help users more mindfully use their screen time, and Facebook and Instagram are now following suit.
“It’s really important for people that use Instagram and Facebook to feel like the time that they spend with us is time well spent,” Ameet Ranadive, Product Management Director at Instagram, told The Verge. “We want to empower people to make intentional decisions about how much time they spend, and how they want to engage with the app.” While Ranadive told The Verge that this could translate to a decrease in other metrics for the company, such as engagement or time spent, it’s a “trade off that we’re willing to live with,” he said.
The news follows a push from Facebook to increase meaningful interactions and “time well spent” on the social media site. This initiative has seen a change to the Facebook newsfeed to promote posts from “friends and family,” as Facebook announced on its blog in January. In a Facebook post, founder Mark Zuckerberg explained the move, saying, “We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us.” This push also involved the network prioritizing posts users were more likely to engage with.
Whether you’re totally happy with the amount of time you spend on social media, or think you might want help making a change to your scrolling habits, having these tools available right in the app can help you one way or the other. Happy scrolling, friends.