Here’s an overview of the option from friendly automaton Adam Mosseri:
As you can see here, the new option, which some users will be prompted to activate from their feed, enables you to select a time period for a reminder to take a break from the app, which will then also suggest alternate activities you can do to get away for a moment.
Which could get more users to be more mindful about their Instagram engagement, and at the least, serve as a gentle push to disconnect every now and then, rather than getting pulled into content rabbit holes and/or mindless scrolling for hours on end.
The feature builds on Meta’s various wellbeing tools, with Facebook and Instagram both already offering time limit reminders to better manage your time in each app, while Facebook also has a ‘Take a Break’ option for muting individual users whose posts start to get on your nerves.
Facebook also introduced a ‘Quiet Mode’ last year, which mutes notifications, providing another way to take dedicated time away from the app.
Meta spokesman Nick Clegg first flagged the coming ‘Take a Break’ option for Instagram last month, in an interview about the app’s negative impact on teens, as revealed as part of the recent ‘Facebook Files’ leak. In response to concern, Clegg noted that Instagram would be adding the ‘Take a Break’ option, with a focus on young users specifically, while he also said that the app will introduce new prompts to ‘nudge’ teens away from potentially harmful content.
“We’re going to introduce something which I think will make a considerable difference, which is where our systems see that the teenager is looking at the same content over and over again and it’s content which may not be conducive to their well-being, we will nudge them to look at other content.”
In combination, the tools provide more capacity for Instagram users to manage their time in the app – though as noted, both Facebook and Instagram have had time limit reminders since 2018, so functionally it doesn’t add anything, other than maybe some new prompts on such in-stream.
Which then begs the question as to what true value the new option will provide. If users can already do this, then the real push needs to be on how to make people take such action, which maybe these new push notifications will do. But really, Instagram can’t stop you using the app for as long as you want, and not many users are going to voluntarily restrict their time.
So will it really be effective? It’s hard to see this adding a lot to the process, though any updates that can help improve wellbeing are worth testing.
But maybe, this is more valuable as a PR exercise, in response to the claims that Instagram can be harmful to users.
Meta is giving users the tools to better manage such, but it can’t be responsible for dictating your time. You either choose to set limits or you don’t.
We’ll see how many people actually switch on the new alerts.