Instagram’s Take a Break feature will nudge teens to spend less time on the app

Instagram announced today the implementation of several improvements aimed at making the platform safer for teenagers. The majority of these improvements will be implemented as new features during 2022. The first of these services, dubbed “Take a Break,” will be available in select regions starting today.

Screenshots of Instagram's newly introduced 'Take a Break' feature.

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri first introduced the functionality in November, teasing a December deployment. Take a Break, which must be enabled manually in Instagram settings, encourages users to spend time away from the app after reaching a predetermined time limit. The timer can be adjusted to 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or 30 minutes. When users hit this limit, the app displays a full-screen message instructing them to exit the app. To dismiss the notice and return to the app, users must tap the Done button.

It should be noted that this function still places the onus on users to control their addiction. According to a CNN writer who tested a beta version of Instagram with this function, the timer resets to zero even if you turn off the screen for a few seconds or switch to another app before hitting the time restriction. Instagram, on the other hand, stated that this function is still in its early phases and that users should expect refinements in 2022.

Instagram aims to send notifications encouraging youngsters to utilize this tool in order to increase the number of people who use it. Early test results show that 90 percent of teens who activated this function kept it turned on. The function is now available in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The rest of the world should have it by the end of next year.

Guardianship tool

Instagram plans to launch a service for guardians to “guide and support their teens on Instagram” in March 2022. The service will allow parents to observe how much time their children spend on Instagram and would notify them if their child reports someone on the platform. Instagram also plans to provide an educational site for parents, complete with extensive guidance on social media use, product tutorials, and expert perspectives.

Screenshots of Instagram's upcoming parental control options.

A more secure environment for teenagers

Instagram announced plans to implement three key measures to make the platform safer for minors. To begin, teenagers who aren’t following them will no longer be able to be tagged or mentioned.

Instagram will also make changes to its recommendation engine and take a more stringent approach to the content it promotes to teenagers through its search, explore, hashtags, and suggested accounts features. And if an adolescent is found to be focusing on a single topic for an extended amount of time, Instagram will begin prodding them to explore other things.

Screenshots of Instagram's upcoming teen safety features.

These features will be included to Instagram’s teen account adjustments in 2021. To summarize, all teen accounts are now private by default, and adults cannot direct message teens who do not follow them. Instagram had also changed the Explore tab to restrict the amount of sensitive content that appeared there. Users can now choose between three options: Allow, Limit, and Limit Even More. The Allow option is not available for teen accounts, which may provide some relief to parents.