Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is making good on his assurance that he wants to be part of the time well spent movement, but instead of starting with Facebook, the company is bringing its first official time-well-spent feature to Instagram, a Facebook-owned app.
Starting today, Instagram users will see a “You’re all caught up” message to let them know when they have viewed all of the new posts from the last two days.
“We’ve heard that it can be difficult to keep track of your seen posts. With this message, you’ll have a better understanding of your Feed and know you haven’t missed recent photos or videos,” writes Instagram on its press blog.
In a post on his Facebook page in January, Zuckerberg said his focus for 2018 was making sure time spent on Facebook would be time well spent. The company has yet to roll out any feature similar to Instagram’s new notification, but it did confirm to TechCrunch last month that it is developing a yet-to-be-released “Your Time on Facebook” tool that shows a user how much time they have spent on the app per day for a seven-day stretch. It also lets users set a daily reminder that alerts them when they have reached their self-imposed time limit.
The time well spent movement is definitely gaining momentum. In February, former executives from Facebook, Google and Mozilla launched a public awareness campaign to warn of the dangerous impact social media can have on an individual’s well-being. The group — named the Center for Human Technology — is using the money it has raised to lobby for legislative, policy and regulatory changes, along with new approaches to software and UI design. It also is launching an anti-tech ad campaign in 55,000 public schools in the US.
At this year’s WWDC, Apple introduced a digital wellness feature to help iPhone and iPad users monitor their screen time across different apps.
Google is working on similar features on Android devices as well. During the Google I/O Conference in May, the company previewed its latest operating system, Android P, which includes four separate features that apply to the time well spent initiative: Dashboard, App Timer, Do Not Disturb (DND) and Wind Down.
The Dashboard feature shows users how much time they are spending on specific apps, and the App Timer allows users to set time limits for their app usage. With Do Not Disturb, users will be able to turn off app notifications simply by setting the phone face down on a surface. The Wind Down feature is designed to ease users out of their apps at bedtime.
What remains to be seen is how these time well spent efforts will impact advertisers. People spending less time on their phones and apps could very well translate into brands seeing a decline in their return on ad spend. As more social platforms and mobile devices design tools to help users reduce their screen time, brands will need to focus efforts on creating more engaging mobile content, and they must be savvier in terms of how they interact with consumers via social platforms and apps.