Over the past couple of years, Instagram and Facebook have offered ways to see how much time you spend using the apps each day as well as an option to set a daily time limit for usage. Now, it appears that Instagram has increased the minimum daily time limit setting to 30 minutes from 10 or 15 minutes.
An Instagram user told TechCrunch that the app asked them to “set a new value” for their daily time limit, while noting that they could keep their existing setting. “The values available for daily time limits change as part of an app update,” a pop-up reads. The Instagram app currently offers me a minimum delay of 30 minutes. Engadget asked Meta for clarification on when and why the change is happening.
The settings on the Facebook app are more specific. Users can choose any time limit in five-minute increments. When a user reaches their chosen time limit in either app, a notification appears to let them know, though they can ignore it.
At the time it rolled out the feature, Meta said the idea was to give people more control over the time they spend on its apps and to “foster conversations between parents and teens” about healthy online habits. In November, Instagram began testing a “Take a Break” feature to remind users, especially teens, to put down their phones from time to time.
It’s unclear why Instagram appears to have increased the minimum daily time limit. However, the timing is interesting given that Facebook’s daily active users dropped for the first time last quarter, while user growth in Meta’s family of apps (Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) remained nearly flat.
Meta expects slower revenue growth this year due to more competition for people’s time and users paying more attention to features that generate less revenue, such as Reels. Increasing the time limit and allowing users to scroll through Instagram and watch ads longer could be a way to counteract these revenue issues.
It remains to be seen what politicians might think of this move. In October, Senator Richard Blumenthal said that Meta (which was still called Facebook at the time) “knows that its products can be addictive and toxic to children.” Earlier this month, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate with the goal of asking the Federal Trade Commission to study ways to reduce “the harms of algorithmic amplification and social media addiction on covered platforms.”