TikTok and Instagram try to curb user addiction
The Future. Both TikTok and Instagram are rolling out features to help address users’ well-being, hoping to break a cycle of addiction on their platforms — even if the content they’re looking at isn’t necessarily harmful. If the new features prove successful, it may lead to the platforms seeing a decline in usage but boost user satisfaction enough to repair their poor mental-health reputations.
- The platform is rolling out two new features — a daily screen-time limiter that prompts users to take a break and a screen-time dashboard so users can see a detailed breakdown of their day on the app.
- Users can set the daily limit themselves, but those between the ages 13 and 17 will automatically receive a notification if they’ve used the app for more than 100 minutes in a single day.
- The platform is rolling out a feature that “nudges” users away from content on the Explore page they’ve looked at for too long, offering a selection of different themes that the user can “choose to explore next.”
- Instagram will send the nudges even if users aren’t fixating on something considered harmful — it just wants users to break the cycle.
- The platform is also testing a “Take a Break” feature to get users off the app… if even for a little bit.
In announcing the new features yesterday, both TikTok and Instagram were strangely in-sync on their reasons for the rollouts. In a blog post, TikTok said that a recent study with the online-safety group Internet Matters found that users (especially teenagers) have a better experience if they feel in control of their online behavior.
Meanwhile, Instagram pointed to a study that found that 58.2% of users felt nudges made their app experience better “by helping them become more mindful of their time on-platform.” Again, it’s all about the feeling that they’re controlling their experience, not the app controlling them.