Instagram rolls out digital wellbeing update

Sankt-Petersburg Russia March 6, 2018: Apple iPhone X on office desk with icons of social media facebook, instagram, twitter, snapchat application on screen. Social network. Starting social media app. Photo taken at company office

As leaked earlier this summer, the latest version of Instagram (v 57+) now includes three new digital wellbeing features designed to help people manage their time on the app. Updates are being rolled out globally in the coming weeks.

The goal of Instagram’s new digital wellbeing features is to help people ensure that their “Time on Instagram should be positive, intentional and inspiring”. Instagram’s PR post is here.

The new features can be found in your profile and under “Your Activity” in the settings menu.

  • Your Activity: See your average time for Instagram on a device. Tap any bar to see your total time for that day.
  • Daily Reminder: Set a daily reminder to give yourself an alert when you’ve reached the amount of time you want to spend for the day.

  • Mute Push Notifications: Tap “Notification Settings” and turn on “Mute Push Notifications” to limit your Instagram notifications.

The psychology of these digital wellbeing features is simple, and use simple validated behaviour change techniques (BCTs) around goal-setting, self-monitoring and feedback to nudge people to be more mindful of their use of the popular app.  It’s essentially the ‘quantified self’ mantra of ‘self-improvement through self-knowledge’.

  • BCT#1 – Goal Setting (behaviour) – Set or agree on a goal defined in terms of the behaviour to be achieved
  • BCT #12 – Self-monitoring of behaviour – Establish a method for the person to monitor and record their behaviour(s) as part of a behavior change strategy
  • BCT #37 –  Remove aversive stimulus – Advise or arrange for the removal of an aversive stimulus to facilitate behavior change (includes ‘Escape learning’)

Whether these features will be effective in helping people manage their time on Instagram remains to be seen. One way to improve effectiveness could be to add a social dimension using a BCT called “social comparison” – showing people how much time they spend compared with others so that they can self-regulate their own behaviour towards a perceived norm.

  • BCT #31- Social comparison – Draw attention to others’ performance to allow comparison with the person’s own performance
Written by
Dr Paul Marsden
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Digital wellbeing covers the latest scientific research on the impact of digital technology on human wellbeing. Curated by psychologist Dr. Paul Marsden (@marsattacks). Sponsored by WPP agency SYZYGY.