Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) has created several new features for the Facebook and Instagram apps that will help users manage and limit the amount of time they spend on them. Facebook wrote in a blog post: “We developed these tools based on collaboration and inspiration from leading mental health experts and organizations, academics, our own research and feedback from our community. We want the time people spend on Facebook and Instagram to be intentional, positive and inspiring.”
The tools in both apps are essentially the same. To begin with, each app is getting a new usage page that will show you how much time you’ve logged on the app that day and that week, along with a daily average of time over the last 7 days. On Facebook, the feature will be on your settings page under “Your Time on Facebook.” On Instagram, the usage log is under Settings->Your Activity.
If you’d like to reduce the amount of time you are spending on the apps, you will be able to set a daily reminder that alerts you when you’ve spent your chosen amount of time in the app for that day. The alert will not kick you out of the app and you can choose to ignore it if you’d like, but it will make you more conscious of the amount of time you have been scrolling. You can change or cancel the interval chosen at any time.
Another thing that the apps are attempting to tackle is the regular distraction of notifications. Now, users will be able to mute push notifications from the apps for a set period of time, allowing them to avoid turning off the notifications completely. The setting will let you select a period of time between 15 minutes and 8 hours when the notifications will not come through your device.
The new features come as concerns grow about the impact social media is having on people’s mental health. Facebook officials wrote in the post, “It’s our responsibility to talk openly about how time online impacts people — and we take that responsibility seriously. These new tools are an important first step, and we are committed to continuing our work to foster safe, kind and supportive communities for everyone.”