Ah, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. Whether it happens before falling asleep at night, while riding the subway despite subpar cell service, or while sitting on the toilet, Insta-scrolling is a time-consuming activity many people (myself included) engage in more than they'd like to admit. So if you've ever wondered how much time you actually spend using Instagram, you're in luck. (Or rather, you're probably in for a rude awakening.) Instagram is going to start telling users how much they use the app in a new feature, which the app's developers are currently fine-tuning, TechCrunch reported.
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom confirmed the news on Twitter on Tuesday. "It's true," he tweeted. "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."
He also acknowledged the risk this poses for the app, as many users' results could inspire them to spend less time on Instagram (and therefore view less ads and consequently make Instagram less money). He explained that he chose to release this data because he understands the responsibility and power that Instagram has. "Understanding how time online impacts people is important, and it's the responsibility of all companies to be honest about this," Systrom tweeted. "We want to be part of the solution. I take that responsibility seriously."
The details of the new tools have not yet been released, TechCrunch reported. In fact, this all first came to light thanks to Jane Manchun Wong, a computer science student and fan of reverse engineering apps. In an investigation of Instagram's code, Wong discovered a time spent element, which prompted TechCrunch's article, and soon after, Systrom's confirmation that Instagram was working on eventually releasing the tool to users.
That being said, it's unclear when the feature will be released, and if the new usage insights data will only include data for the past day or week, or if it will go back in time to show a user's total Instagram usage since they first downloaded the app. I imagine the latter would seriously inspire some people to delete the app, so it seems unlikely that Instagram will go that extreme — but you never know!
This information primarily applies to Android-owning Instagram users, because iOS already gives iPhone users some data regarding their Instagram usage. Yet, many iPhone users are blissfully unaware of this haunting feature. If you're an iPhone user who is in the mood to feel bad about yourself, here's how to check your app usage:
Click Settings, Battery, and then scroll down to see how much time you spent on each app in both the past 24 hours and in the past six days. It was easy for me to find my Instagram usage, as it topped both lists. However, I will not be leaking the results of my findings, because I have a little dignity (and an Instagram addiction to kick, apparently).
In another effort to commit to social consciousness, Systrom pointed out the efforts Instagram has made to prevent bullying. Unfortunately, bullying is still a huge issue on social media. Rates of cyberbullying amongst children in grades six through 12 are still rising in the United States, especially against LGBTQ students.
These are not the only new features Instagram announced as of late. Last week, the app rolled out the emoji slider for Instagram stories, which is a twist on Instagram's old-school polls. Instead of limiting followers' responses to this or that responses, Instagram now allows users to ask questions on a sliding scale, featuring an emoji the poster can choose.
So sure, Instagram may be encouraging us to monitor and therefore limit our usage of the app. But if Instagram keeps rolling out new, fun features, the task is only going to become more difficult.