You probably have a good idea of how much time you spend on social media apps like Facebook and Instagram, but now these sites will be able to give you an exact number.
In the next few weeks, both companies will roll out several new tools that will show users how addicted they can be to their apps. From an activity dashboard, a new way to limit notifications and even a daily reminder to show how much time you spend on the app, Facebook and Instagram hope users have a better way of managing their time.
“We developed these tools based on collaboration and inspiration from leading mental health experts and organizations, academics, our own extensive research and feedback from our community,” said Ameet Ranadive, product management director at Instagram and David Ginsberg, director of research at Facebook in a statement Wednesday.
“We want the time people spend on Instagram and Facebook 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.”
The new tools
On Instagram, users will soon be able to see a “Your Activity” feature and on Facebook a “Your Time on Facebook” feature, to figure out how many hours are spent on each app. A new dashboard will allow users to see their average time during the week, as well as their total time for the day.
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And for those who already feel addicted to these sites, the app will also allow users to set a “reminder” to alert them when they’ve spent a maximum number of hours on the app. For example, if you want to limit your use on Instagram to two hours a day, the app will now alert you when you’ve reached that amount.
In June, Apple announced a similar tool that would show iPhone users how much time they spend on their phones.
And a lot of this comes down to mental health and phone addictions, experts say. Several studies have shown apps like Instagram can be one of the worst apps for mental health, especially for young people, leading to anxiety disorders by comparing their lives to others.
Cut back on social media apps
Parenting expert Alyson Schafer and author of Honey, I Wrecked The Kids, says there are simple ways all of us can cut back on social media use.
“Begin by becoming aware of just how much time you actually spend on your social media platforms. You may be very surprised,” she tells Global News.
“Decide consciously how much time you would actually like to dedicate to being on social media and set daily timers that alert you how close you are to your chosen limits”
She recommends using the “do not disturb” function to avoid being on apps during times you’ve chosen to be offline and making it a habit during the week. You can allot times for eating a meal, catching up on a show or even family time.
You can also try leaving your phone in another room before you go to bed or getting into the habit of turning off your data, for example, a few hours a day.
And while it’s tempting to constantly scroll through your feed, there is one way to cut down on this.
“Turn off notifications so you’re not tempted to check to see who commented or posted.”