Many of us can admit to spending too much time on our phones, but are you aware of just how much? A recent study has shown that the average adult spends about 2 hours each day on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, and for teens, that average is an incredible 9 hours. Social media agency Mediakix predicts that over a lifetime, people will spend about five years and four months on social media — and that’s an underestimate. Numerous studies have noted the negative repercussions of cell phone addiction, especially regarding mental health, and according to Mediakix’s CEO Evan Asano, “much of this was driven by how successful and sticky mobile devices and social media apps have been.” However, the tech industry has decided to put matters into their own hands, kickstarting the user wellbeing trend.
Time Well Spent
Facebook and Instagram are the two most recent tech giants to jump onto the “time well spent” bandwagon, as Facebook recently announced their newest tools to help users manage their time spent on their app. In collaboration with mental health organizations and experts, Facebook will soon be releasing its new tools which include an activity dashboard, a daily reminder and a new way to limit notifications. Both Facebook and Instagram have collectively agreed that they want time spent on their platforms to be “intentional, positive and inspiring.” The new features will include a dashboard that detail both average time spent on the app, as well as the total time spent on any given day. Below the dashboard, you can set a daily reminder to give yourself an alert when you’ve reached the amount of time you want to spend on that app for that day. Additionally, you will be able to mute push notifications during times when you’d like to focus.
For the self-defined ‘social media addict,’ these new tools will hopefully garner a better awareness and understanding of online habits. Though research has yet to specifically define a healthy amount of time to spend on social media or when it becomes detrimental, the user wellbeing trend is sure to start the conversation. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom stated that the new tools are meant to encourage “positive and intentional” interactions on social media — alluding that healthy social media habits are more qualitative than quantitative. It’s hard to know what counts as unintentional, but we can certainly adopt a ‘less is more’ perspective to our social media consumption.
What does this mean for Facebook’s online business?
Virtually every feature that Facebook and Instagram have rolled out over the past year have encouraged users to spend more time inside their apps. Because time translates to advertising dollars, Facebook’s revenue heavily relies on increasing time spent online. The new tools appear to be counterintuitive from a revenue standpoint, so why do they want you to step away? With the release of Facebook’s most recent algorithm change, Mark Zuckerberg has stated that updates made to Facebook are to ensure that “the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable.” In turn, improving the quality of time you spend with Facebook’s products could actually increase the time you spend in the long run. According to Recode, “If using Instagram makes you feel good — maybe because you spent less time aimlessly scrolling — you’re more likely to come back, the thinking goes.”
It’s tough to predict how these new tools will impact business on social media, but according to Facebook and Instagram, the changes are “rolling out soon.” Take the time to assess your social media habits— would you consider your interactions to be intentional, positive and inspiring?
Words: Amanda Peterson, Enlightened Digital