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Instagram rolling out new features to prevent social media addiction

2 years 2 months 3 weeks ago Tuesday, December 07 2021 Dec 7, 2021 December 07, 2021 3:59 AM December 07, 2021 in News
Source: CNN

For years now, health experts have been warning against the dangers of social media addiction.

According to one Healthline article, some experts estimate up to ten percent of people in the United States are battling social media addiction.

What is social media addiction?

This form of compulsion is classified as a behavioral addiction that leads to a harmful influence on the brain and by definition, is marked by a compulsive and excessive use of social media that interferes with other areas of one's life.

Instagram's creators are now offering possible solutions to the threat of social media addiction.

Instagram's new features

CNN reports that the social media app is set to feature additional options for users, particularly for teens, that are designed to prevent the development of an unhealthy dependency on the app. 

For example, on Tuesday, the company launched its Take a Break tool, which will encourage users to spend some time away from the platform after they've been scrolling for a certain period.

Users have the choice of turning on the feature in "Settings" and selecting if they want to be alerted after using the platform for 10 minutes, 20 minutes or 30 minutes. They'll then receive a full-screen alert telling them to close out of the app and suggesting that they take a deep breath, write something down, check a to-do list or listen to a song.

The feature, was unveiled back in September, but gradually makes its way to the U.S., UK, Canada, and Australia as well as other international locations beginning this week.  

The app's creators said the company is also testing a new way for people to manage their activity on Instagram in one place, allowing them to bulk delete photos and videos they've posted, and previous likes and comments.

In addition to this, the company says it is developing an educational hub for parents that includes tips from experts to help them discuss social media use with their teens, as well as the ability for them to see how much time their kids spend on Instagram and set time limits.

"While available to everyone, I think this tool is particularly important for teens to more fully understand what information they've shared on Instagram, what is visible to others, and to have an easier way to manage their digital footprint," Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, wrote in Tuesday's blog post.

The reason for Instagram's renewed focus on mental health

Some of the new features mentioned above are becoming available one day before Mosseri faces questions from lawmakers over Instagram's child safety practices.

The question of social media's impact on teens garnered attention this fall after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked hundreds of internal documents, and some of them revealed that the company knew how Instagram can damage mental health and body image, especially among teenage girls.

Though Facebook attempted to discredit Haugen and her testimony in Congress, her disclosures pressured the company to rethink the launch of an Instagram app for children under 13.

This Wednesday, Mosseri is set to appear before a Senate subcommittee as lawmakers question Instagram's impact on young users' mental health.


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