even instagram knows it's bad for your mental health
Instagram and Facebook are rolling out tracking tools to tell you how much time you've wasted online.
DMing memes with your work crush and fuelling comment section debate about fashion Crocs can be a fun and positive experience. But that’s not how most of us are whittling away upwards of nine hours a day on social platforms. Today, Instagram and Facebook announced a feature that will tell you exactly how much time you’ve spent on the apps. Unsurprisingly, the tools are aimed at improving our mental health practices. Studies have repeatedly shown that heavy social media use is making us feel shitty, with one 2016 report finding it “significantly associated with increased depression.” Instagram was recently found to be the worst culprit.
The new tools can be toggled on and off through the settings page on Instagram and Facebook. A dashboard will display your average time spent on either app, and your total time for the day. It also lets you set alerts when you’ve reached a certain amount of time, or mute your notifications so they don’t distract you during study sessions or group dinners. Ameet Ranadive, Product Management Director at Instagram, and David Ginsberg, Director of Research at Facebook, mention that Instagram has recently taken other measures with mental health in mind, such as the “You’re All Caught Up” notification.
“We also have an ongoing, global commitment to suicide prevention, including the expansion of proactive detection and improvement of first responder identification,” Ranadive and Ginsberg said in the joint statement. “Our approach was developed in collaboration with mental health organizations such as Save.org and with input from people who have had personal experience thinking about or attempting suicide.”
But as TechChrunch points out, the new features don’t distinguish between “active” and “passive” use of social media. Liking and commenting on people photos, chatting to internet and IRL friends, and reposting positive memes can actually improve your mood. One study even revealed that social media is helping us talk about mental health, with in the DMs or through witty memes about serious struggles with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Truly mindful social media actually involves using our minds.