Instagram’s Take a Break Feature Still Needs Discipline to Manage

It doesn’t solve the underlying issue

Key Takeaways

  • Instagram released a new Take a Break feature to all users this week.
  • Users can control the feature in their settings and choose their desired scrolling time before a reminder pops up to take a break.
  • The reminders are helpful, but it's really all about self-disciple when it comes to spending less time on social media.
Instagram's Take a Break feature on iPhone

Instagram

We could all use a little break from social media, and even the platforms themselves are starting to recognize that. 

Instagram just released its Take a Break feature to everyone this week, aimed at reminding you to take a break from scrolling when you’ve been on Instagram for too long. The feature is mostly aimed at curbing younger users from becoming too reliant on social media, but let’s be honest, everyone on Instagram, no matter your age, probably spends too much time on it. 

While the feature is a step in the right direction for platforms to address the issue of too much social media consumption, it’s ultimately up to individual users to take a break every once in a while.

Give Yourself a Break 

The Take a Break feature was initially announced as a test in November but officially began rolling out to the US, the UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia this week. Instagram said that based on initial tests of the feature, more than 90% of teen users kept the break reminders on.

"After a quick glance at my activity on Instagram, my daily average is one hour and 40 minutes—oof."

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri previously said the company worked with third-party experts on framing the feature and what tips should be given in the reminders.

"Whilst taking regular breaks from screens has been challenging recently, it has been good advice for many years, and initiatives that encourage this are to be supported," said Boris Radanović, UK Safer Internet Centre, in Instagram's blog post about the announcement. "We will continue to work with Instagram in this regard and hope that this represents a step in the right direction."

The feature can be found in Instagram's Settings > Your Activity. You can set the timer to alert you at 10, 20, or 30 minutes to take a break, and a reminder will show across your entire screen suggesting you take a break. 

The reminder also suggests you take a few deep breaths, write down what you're thinking, listen to your favorite song, or knock something off your to-do list instead of continuing to scroll. 

Put the Phone Down

According to the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, the recommended time you should be spending on social media per day (that’s ALL platforms, combined) is 30 minutes. After a quick glance at my activity on Instagram, my daily average is one hour and 40 minutes—oof.

Instagram app recommending you explore a different topic

Instagram

Obviously, I need the Take a Break feature, so I set it to remind me at 20 minutes to take a break. Let me tell you—20 minutes goes by fast. You can be in a rabbit hole about a topic and not even realize how much time has gone by. I was surprised when the reminder popped up because it didn't feel like 20 minutes, but dutifully, I exited out of Instagram and put my phone down.

I followed the advice on the reminder, looked at my to-do list to check a few things off, and did a quick meditation session to unplug for a bit. Still, I was always making a conscious decision to put the phone down and do another activity—I easily could have ignored the reminder and kept scrolling, and no one would have known or cared.

Is It Worth It? 

In the two days that I used the Take a Break feature, I knocked down my overall time spent on Instagram to just about an hour—better than what I was clocking in before, but still not ideal. Also, I didn't test the feature over a weekend, when I'm more likely to scroll social media apps aimlessly. 

"... it’s ultimately up to individual users to take a break every once in a while."

It's also important to note that the Take a Break feature only works while using the app. So, if you leave the app to check your email, then go back to scrolling, the timer essentially resets, making the reminder kind of pointless.

Overall, it's going to take more than the Take a Break feature for me to log off of social media consciously—it's going to take a conscious change of habits (like swapping out picking up my phone for a book) to really do the trick.

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