Instagram users will soon be able to monitor how much time they spend on the social media app with the help of a new “Usage Insights” tool.
Monitoring the time you spend on social media can be quite difficult. After all, many of us get sucked into the vortex, spending way too much time scrolling through photos and videos of our closest and not-so-closest friends. Last week Google unveiled its new time-management controls, a groundbreaking new way for people to track app usage. Apparently, others are following suit — including Instagram.
App researcher Jane Munchun Wong discovered what Instagram was doing when she she found a “Usage Insights” tool while coding — showing users their “time spent” on the popular social media site — hidden in the code of Instagram’s Android app. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom promptly confirmed the news on Twitter. “We’re building tools that will help the IG community know more about the time they spend on Instagram — any time should be positive and intentional,” he wrote.
Professor of psychology and licensed clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., tells LIVESTRONG.COM that she believes Instagram’s new time-monitoring tool is a step in the right direction. “Social media is like eating potato chips,” she says. “We do it mindlessly, and then we eat 500 calories without thinking about it.”
However, she does point out that its effectiveness will highly depend on what exactly the tool measures and how clearly the data is presented. “Ideally, it would be a bit like the step feature that tells me the number of steps in real time and gives me a running total for each day over time so I can monitor it,” she explains. Better yet? If there was some sort of an alarm that went off after a certain amount of time had elapsed.
After all, research has found that most social media usage isn’t a positive force when it comes to mental health. In addition to its ability of being totally addictive, it can negatively impact self-esteem and induce depression. 2017 research conducted in the U.K. found that of all the leading social media sites — including Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — Instagram was the absolute worst offender.
While the researchers did find that it could be a positive platform for self-expression and self-identity, they also determined that the platform can negatively impact body image and sleep in young women and contribute to young people’s FOMO (fear of missing out). And several studies have also determined that spending less time on social media will make you a happier person.
Even without time-monitoring features on social media apps, you can take control of your usage by limiting yourself. While you might miss out on your BFF’s avocado toast breakfast in real time, it might make you a happier person in the long run.
What Do YOU Think?
Are you impressed that Instagram is adding a usage-monitoring tool to its app? Do you think all social media sites should follow Instagram’s lead? Will monitoring social media usage help people with their addiction issues? Tell us what you think in the comments!
Leah Groth is a writer and editor currently based in Philadelphia. She has covered topics such as entertainment, parenting, health & wellness for xoJane, Babble, Radar, Fit Pregnancy, Mommy Nearest, Living Healthy and PopDust.