Social networks will soon have tools that allow you to account for time spent on apps and set alerts that indicate overuse of the platforms

Facebook and Instagram, both social networks owned by Facebook Inc., introduced new tools in their apps: users will soon manage their time spent on each of these platforms. The announcement by Ameet Ranadive, Instagram’s Product Director, and David Ginsberg, Facebook’s Research Director, reports that these tools include a new activity dashboard that helps users manage the average time spent on the app, a daily reminder once a user reaches a self-imposed time limit on the app, and more control over notifications.

There is not a date scheduled for the launch of the control tools yet, but the company has detailed how they will be activated. According to Facebook Inc., to access the tools, go to the Settings page on either app. On Instagram tap “Your Activity,” and on Facebook, tap “Your Time on Facebook.” At the top, you’ll see a dashboard showing your average time for that app on that device. Tap any bar to see your total time for that day.

Below the dashboard, you can set a daily reminder to give yourself an alert when you’ve reached the amount of time you want to spend on that app for that day. You can change or cancel the reminder at any time. You can also tap on “Notification Settings” to quickly access the new “Mute Push Notifications” setting. This will limit your Facebook or Instagram notifications for a period of time when you need to focus.

Facebook’s concerns about its users’ mental health

According to Facebook, these tools were based on collaboration and inspiration from leading mental health experts and organizations, academics, as well as research and feedback from their community. “We want the time people spend on Facebook and Instagram to be intentional, positive and inspiring,” says the company.

These tools are in line with several measures implemented by Facebook since December 2017, when the article Hard Questions: Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us? was published. The text explored scientific research and positive and negative opinions from experts on social networks, in addition to the impacts they may have on the mental health of their users. There is strong evidence that the intensive use of these networks is related to anxiety and depression and that their effects may be more addictive than alcohol and cigarette consumption.

Since then, Facebook has changed algorithms to show people the most relevant posts – the ones that are often shown on their News Feed – and has improved features like See First, Hide, Unfollow, and Keyword Snooze. On Instagram, they launched powerful tools, like the “You’re All Caught Up” message, keyword filtering, and offensive comment and bullying filters.

The company also has an ongoing, global commitment to suicide prevention, including the expansion of proactive detection of contents on suicide or self-mutilation, and improvement in providing help centers available in partnership with Centro de Valorização da Vida – CVV, a free emotional support service by phone, internet or in person, based in Brazil.

“We want the time people spend on Facebook to encourage them towards meaningful social interactions,” said Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Content published in August 18, 2018

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