Logos of some social media apps- CC via Pixabay/JanBaby
CAIRO – 2 August 2018: As a way to curb the time spent on social media for the sake of mental health, Facebook and Instagram announced they are releasing a new feature that would limit the time people spend on both apps.
Technically speaking, users can view the amount of time they spent ‘scrolling’, put reminders when they exceed a certain amount of time and mute notifications, according to BBC News.
As addiction to social media increases, the new time limit tool on both apps can help users monitor their own social media activity in terms of how much time they’ve spent on the platform. Users can also choose to mute push notifications for certain amounts of time.
Both these tools can be accessed via settings; ‘Your Time on Facebook’ for Facebook and ‘Your Activity’ for Instagram.
One of the first attempts Instagram did to help limit screen time for users was the "you’re all caught up" feature. This message generally pops up at the top of the screen to notify users that they have seen all their followers’ posts and are up to date with the content.
Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom, thought that this would help users benefit positively from their time on social media.
“We’re building tools that will help the IG community know more about the time they spend on Instagram – any time should be positive and intentional,” tweeted Systrom on May 15, 2018.
Psychologists and multiple doctors have repeatedly expressed their concern over the harmful impact social media could have over mental health. This has gotten to a point where "internet addiction" is being compared to a drug.
Various medical sites argue that this so-called internet addiction is responsible for increasing levels of depression, stress and even suicide.
Seemingly, the fear of not being up to date is more serious that one can imagine. Hence the "you’re all caught up" feature was seemingly to relax users in that they haven’t missed anything.
In a Ted X Talk by Bailey Parnell in 2017, the award winning digital marketer explained that ‘F.O.M.O’, or rather the "fear of missing out" is “an actual social anxiety from the fear that you are missing a potential connection, event or opportunity.”
Parnell shared that the Canadian Associate of Mental Health discovered that children in middle to high school who spend approximately two hours online “reported higher levels of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.”
Although she expressed her own dependence on social media, that it is a tool and can be used positively, Parnell said “I don’t think absence [from social media] is an option anymore. But that doesn’t mean you can’t practice safe social.”
The debate as to whether or not spending too much time on social media is bad for us is almost never ending with respect to its increasing impact on our lives nowadays.
Director of Research and Research Scientist at Facebook, David Ginsberg and Moira Burke respectively, commented on this issue back in 2017 in an article titled "Hard Questions: Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us?" They explained Facebook’s goal is not to deter someone’s mental health but rather for “meaningful interactions with your friends and family.”
As a way to understand social media better, particularly its relationship with teens, who are most exposed, they added on to explain that Facebook pledged $1 million toward researching how technology is impacting the youth.
“We want the time people spend on Facebook to encourage meaningful social interactions,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Egypt is considerably reliant on social media with a majority of the youth exposed to it on a day to day basis.
According to Statista, a global provider of data and statistics, Egypt has 40 percent active social network penetration as of January 2018. This is the amount of internet users that visit social networking websites. Although Egypt does not top this list with the selected countries it is compared to, possibly due to population differences, the global average is at 42 percent.
However, in another set of statistics, as per Statista, Egypt ranks second at the number of internet users in selected African countries as of December 2017 with 49.23 million people. Nigeria ranked first with 98.39 million.