Instagram prompts users to stop scrolling; Tests ‘Take a Break’ feature

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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Meta-owned photo and video-sharing social networking platform, Instagram has started testing a new feature called “Take a Break,” which will allow users to remind themselves to take a break from using the app after either 10, 20 or 30 minutes, depending on their preferences.

Mr. Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram stated that as an opt-in feature, the reminders may have a limited impact, as users would have to be motivated to set up the new control for themselves.

The feature is in line with a broader effort to try and give people more control over their experience of Instagram. “Ultimately, you know what’s best for you when it comes to how you use the app. And we want to make sure we provide tools for you to shape Instagram into what works for you,” Mr. Mosseri added.

The testing of a “Take a Break” feature comes amid intense scrutiny on Instagram and its parent company Meta after whistleblower Ms. Frances Haugen testified before Congress about the company’s internal research that showed Instagram can have a negative effect on the mental health of young people.

Teenagers told the company’s researchers that they felt “addicted” to Instagram but didn’t have the self-control to reduce their usage even though they would have preferred to check the app less often.

The company had previously said it was looking into “Take a Break” reminders. Mr. Mosseri mentioned about the new feature when commenting on Instagram’s decision to pause the development of a version of its service for younger users, Instagram for Kids. He referenced Instagram’s plans to develop reminders, like “Take a Break,” as an example of how the social media platform was addressing issues related to its product’s impact on users’ mental health.

Under the “Take a Break” feature, the notification will display in users’ feeds and if the user turns on the feature, they’ll then be prompted to choose what length of time they want to spend on the app before they receive the reminder. The reminder will then pop up with a list of suggestions like, take a few deep breaths, write down what you’re thinking, listen to your favorite song, do something on your to-do list.

“Take a Break” reminders are launching this week as a test with a limited number of users, for the time being, but the company expects to launch the feature publicly in the coming months.

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