Over the last year or so, Google, Apple, Facebook and other major tech companies have been getting on a "Digital Wellbeing" kick that introduces tools for users to monitor how much time they spend on their phones and tablets, and help them limit potentially unhealthy addiction.
Today, the Facebook-owned Instagram (Android, iOS) has begun rolling out a "Your Activity" dashboard for its mobile apps. If you've gotten this update, you can access it by tapping the user icon in the lower right, then the hamburger menu in the upper right, and then Your Activity.
Here, you get a chart showing your Instagram usage over the past seven days, and the app will calculate a daily average for you. Note that all of this usage is tracked on a per-device basis. Meaning, the Instagram on your iPhone won't track usage on your Android tablet or desktop computer. So if you use Instagram across several devices over the course of the day or week, you'll have to calculate the total usage yourself.
There are two relevant tools below the chart (at least on the iOS version that we tested). The first one is labeled "Set Daily Reminder" which creates a usage notification that can pop anywhere from five minutes to 23 hours and 55 minutes in. Once you've made your choice, it will be listed right next to the setting for easy reference.
The second tool is a shortcut that takes you to your pre-existing notifications settings. Here, you can choose to mute notifications from Instagram for 15 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, or 8 hours. You can also toggle notification vibrations.
FOLLOW Download.com on Twitter for all the latest app news.
Unlike the Your Activity usage tracker, your notification settings cover your whole account, so you don't need to make changes on all the devices that you use to connect to Instagram. Just change a setting once on your phone and tablet, and it applies everywhere.
Your phone may already have other usage tracking tools
With the arrival of iOS 12, Apple itself also introduced the Screen Time tool, featured in the Settings app. So iPhone and iPad users can leverage this in addition to the new tools in the iOS version of Instagram. With Screen Time, you can set a time of day when you don't want to be disturbed, time limits for specific categories of apps, and optionally set up a passcode that must be entered to bypass Screen Time's settings.
The passcode may be handy for parents who are trying to rein in their kids' potentially unhealthy usage habits, though it could also be fodder for teenage rebellion. Technology is tricky like that.
Screen Time is built into iOS 12, so you won't need to hunt it down to download it separately.
Meanwhile, Google has offered a similar app called Digital Wellbeing for Android 9 Pie, and it just came out of beta -- but it appears to still be limited to the company's Pixel and Android One phones. The company is not yet reporting the market share of Android Pie on its distribution dashboard, where it says the latest data was collected "during a 7-day period ending on October 26, 2018. Any versions with less than 0.1 percent distribution are not shown."
At the time of the data collection, Android Pie had been available for nearly three months, indicating that the company has experienced some struggles with the adoption of its latest operating system. Hopefully Google will make its Digital Wellbeing app available for more users soon. Apple reports that 60 percent of its phones and tablets were on iOS 12 as of October 29; this version came out about six weeks earlier, on September 17.
- Instagram has added a 'Your Activity' section to its mobile app that lets you see how much time your spend on it, where you can also enable a reminder that will tell you how long you've been using the app.
- This usage tracking applies only to the specific device that you're using Instagram for. If you access it across several devices over the course of the day or week, you'll have to calculate the total usage yourself.
- iOS 12 also has the Screen Time tool in the Settings app, which can help iPhone and iPad users with additional functions to track and rein in patterns of addiction.
- Apple removes Freedom time management app; does it compete with iOS 12's Screen Time?
- Facebook is creating a personal timer to curb your social app addiction
- New report says Americans spend an average of four hours on a mobile phone every day
- Facebook, Twitter are designed to act like 'behavioural cocaine' (CNET)
- Does the digital workplace affect our general well-being? A new study says yes (ZDNet)
- 75% of Americans agree notifications kill focus in the workplace, most blame social media (TechRepublic)