Time is of the essence for Facebook and Instagram

By Kyle L on 17 August 2018

When it comes to social media, too much is never too much. We could (and do) spend hours upon hours scrolling through feeds and timelines, clicking away to see what our friends, family and viral content providers are chatting about, and of course contributing our “expert opinions” to comment sections on news stories.

However, the notion that our love of social media might be going too far is being highlighted more often, sometimes even from the offices/dungeons of social media platforms themselves. While carrying a digital device is essential for the majority of people, the distractions that are associated with digital devices are numerous. Even if the distraction is educational or informative, social media, like sugary treats or Friday beers, needs to be used responsibly.

So, rather than encouraging digital detoxing or asking people to spend less time on social media sites, Facebook is introducing something NEW!


Your time on Facebook

Since 2017, we as a species have spent an average of 135 minutes a day on social media. While some of this time is positively spent catching up on news, learning about our world, reconnecting with old friends and finding support from caring people, some of it is not. Daily, we fight a barrage of ill-tempered trolls, argue over our favourite reality TV personalities, mock politicians and watch yet another endearing clip of chubby dogs yapping at each other.

Facebook and Instagram have sought to make time spent on social media as enjoyable and positive as possible with various algorithm and community standards changes emerging over the years.

Now Facebook and Instagram want to make this time even more valuable - by encouraging users to spend less time on social media platforms. Instagram’s newsroom site recently announced a new set of features to both Facebook and Instagram to help people limit the amount of time they spend on the platforms.
According to the press release, staff at the platform believe they “have a responsibility to help people understand how much time they spend on [their] platforms so they can better manage their experience.” Social media platforms, ultimately, are media companies with a bottom line that is achieved through advertising revenue. While one might assume that less time spent on social media is the opposite of what social media platforms want, controls on time do not necessarily mean limits on revenue and user engagement. Since the algorithms for all social media platforms are already evolving to improve user experience, users will be served an even more enjoyable experience if they aren’t drowned in digital content all hours of the day.


How it works

Instagram’s press release explains how the time management tools will work to benefit users. On Facebook and Instagram’s mobile apps, users will be able to see how much time they spend on either platform on their mobile devices and can set limits for how much time they want to spend on each platform each day (a notification alerts you when you’ve stuffed your brain with enough digital desserts). Users will also easily be able to stop notifications appearing on their lock screen when they need to not be distracted for any amount of time (these muted notifications can even have an automatic time limit added).

All of these features are useful not only for teenagers and young people needing to knuckle down and have some uninhibited revision time, but also for people who work in social media (such as yours truly) who need to be on their phones at all times, but can’t afford to be distracted whenever their mum shares an embarrassing throwback of her now grown-up kids.

The new tools will be available on future updates of Facebook and Instagram apps.

While more people worldwide are now finding themselves enjoying social media every day, Facebook and Instagram are continuing to try and make that enjoyment entirely worthwhile and positive. Social media agency workers and digital creatives need not fear the introduction of time management tools for social media users - this will only serve to help us make sure our work is of a higher quality and contributes to the enjoyment of clients’ fans and potential customers.

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