Social media giants Facebook and Instagram will soon be releasing a new tool to their apps to limit how much time users spend on there. Both social media platforms announced this new tool, following the concern that too much social media can have a negative effect on mental health.
So, with this new tool introduced, users will now be able to check how much time they’ve spent on the app as well as set a reminder for when they’ve reached their time limit and mute notifications for a period of time.
Despite this, some people are saying this doesn’t go far enough to help with the problem. Dr Grant Blank from the Oxford Internet Institute told BBC Newsbeat that he “wouldn’t say it’s a radical change”, nor is it “really going to change a lot about the way that most people use Facebook or Instagram”
“It strikes me as a way to balance their corporate interest of keeping people spending as much time as possible on Facebook, while still being responsive to people who find the continual notifications to be disturbing or distracting.”
Facebook acknowledged the negative impact that comes from excessive time on social media in a blog post published in December last year. However, no plans of changing their apps was announced until recently.
Facebook’s David Ginsberg and Instagram’s Ameet Ranadive said in the post: “We developed these tools based on collaboration and inspiration from leading mental health experts and organisations, academics, our own extensive research and feedback from our community.”
“We want the time people spend on Facebook and Instagram to be intentional, positive and inspiring. Our hope is that these tools give people more control over the time they spend on our platforms and also foster conversations between parents and teens about the online habits that are right for them.”
An experiment took place at Michigan University a few years prior, where students were picked at random to scroll through Facebook for 10 minutes. The results showed that students were “in a worse mood” at the end of the day than those who were assigned to be more active on the site by posting and talking to friends.
Another study from UC San Diego and Yale revealed that people who clicked on four times as many links or liked twice as many posts, “reported worse mental health than average.”
In January, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stated that “making sure time spent on Facebook is time well spent” was one of the main problems facing the site, as well as “protecting our community from abuse and hate” and “defending against interference by nation states.”
The tools will be found in both sites’ settings page below the headers, “Your Time on Facebook” and “Your Activity”. It sounds as though this tool won’t be mandatory, so users will have the choice to decide whether they want to limit their time on the apps or not.
Do you think this tool will be useful in helping with the issue of mental health by excessive social media usage, or do you think it’s better for them to just “stay off it” completely for a while? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section down below.
Story by Emily Clark
Featured Photo Credit: Herald Sun