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Brief Published: 16 Aug 2018

Facebook and Instagram Want You to Take Screen Breaks

Priscilla Du Preez

Over 70% of Gen Z-ers and millennials think they use their mobile phone too much (Deloitte, 2017). Facebook and Instagram's new feature will help to cut screen time, in line with their 2018 resolutions to focus on consumer wellbeing and encourage meaningful social media use (Facebook, 2018).

A new section within Facebook's settings called Your Time on Facebook will allow users to see how much time they spend on the platform each day, and set daily limits for use. The same tools will be available on Facebook-owned Instagram, found under Your Activity within the app's settings.

Once the user's self-selected limit has been reached, the app sends them an alert. A separate notification-muting tool will also be available, offering up to 15 hours free of social media interruption. This announcement is the latest in a slew of platforms such as Apple and Google introducing use-monitoring technologies.

A blog post on Facebook's Newsroom site stated that the new tools were developed in collaboration with mental health experts, with the aim of improving how social media is used and consumed (Facebook, 2018). In Facebook's Q4 and full-year report, published in January 2018, founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg expressed the company's aim of encouraging "meaningful connections between people rather than passive consumption of content" (Facebook, 2018).

On average, 18- to 24-year-olds check their phones 86 times a day (Deloitte, 2017). While there are many contributing factors to mental wellbeing, this over-use of mobile technology is a likely contributor to the stress that 61% of young people regularly feel in the UK alone (Prince's Trust, 2018).

Mental wellbeing is an ongoing concern for today's consumers, and should be a key consideration when products are in development. See our Nurturing Mental Health and Self-Care Generation reports for more examples of good practice across various industries.