TechnologyRest reminders and time limits on Instagram and TikTok: "I don't have...

    Rest reminders and time limits on Instagram and TikTok: “I don’t have them activated, I know how to control myself”

    “We give the appearance that we use the mobile more, and it may be, but there are also adults who use it a lot,” says Eva, a 15-year-old girl who claims to know how to manage the time she spends on social networks every day. She believes that the fact that platforms like TikTok and Instagram are developing tools to prevent excessive use of their applications and that they are aimed precisely at teenagers is due to the image of their social group. Like her, Javier Gonzalez (18 years old) and Maria (16) defend their decision not to activate the rest reminders and the time limits that these companies have incorporated in recent months: “I control it well,” says Maria.

    Time limits are not too new. Before these networks decided to incorporate them, the smartphones themselves and some parental control applications already offered them. In fact, those are more restrictive than those of Instagram and TikTok, because, after the pre-established time of use, the user cannot access those applications again until the next day (although there is always a way to deactivate them). Those who have developed social networks are of a dissuasive nature: they warn the user that the time set as a limit has already passed (15 minutes, 20 or an hour, for example), but, if he closes the warning, he can continue browsing you want.

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    As for rest reminders, it may be one of the most striking tools of the last year. The decision to incorporate them has been motivated by the growing noise about the time that young people dedicate to the networks and, probably, above all by the controversial reports in which Meta recognized that its Instagram platform was harmful to adolescents. The social upheaval has forced the big technology companies to assume certain responsibilities.

    The first platform to incorporate these notices was, in fact, Instagram, which last March began offering its users the possibility of programming rest reminders that pop up every 10, 20 or 30 minutes. Pop-up messages advise you to take breaths, write what you are thinking, listen to music or do some pending task at that moment; advice that seems aimed at those with addictive problems with the app. However, according to Enrique Echeburua, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of the Basque Country, “this may be useful for most people, but for those who abuse it and do not have the capacity for self-control, they are probably very useful strategies. weak and need other measures, such as psychological support, help from parents directive measures rather than mere reminders”.

    Javier Gonzalez agrees: “I I know I can control myself, but maybe it does help those who can’t or have a hard time. There may be people who ignore those warnings and continue in the application, but perhaps it helps some of them to realize and control the use”. Echeburua points out that “there are many adolescents who use social networks and do not really present a problem of abuse or addiction.” According to a 2022 report from the Ministry of Health, around 20% of adolescents are at risk of screen addiction, especially between the ages of 14 and 16. However, that risk does not mean that they have been (or will be) diagnosed as addicted. “You must not abuse the terms that are used. They are not necessarily addicts, that is the extreme point”, insists the psychologist.

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    Report Impact of screens on the lives of adolescents and their families in situations of social vulnerability: reality and virtuality.  Ministry of Health.
    Report Impact of screens on the lives of adolescents and their families in situations of social vulnerability: reality and virtuality. Ministry of Health.

    “Reminders can let you know when you’re doing nothing more than being on that network and can make you aware without your parents having to be on the lookout. You can make yourself aware of using them in moderation”, reflects Javier, who considers: “Although companies know quite good methods to persuade people, I think that it is oneself who must control oneself. When you are very young, parents are quite attentive, but for it to be healthier, you have to be the one to realize it and confront them (the strategies of the platforms)”.

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    Javier Gonzalez de Paz watches TikTok on a terrace in Madrid last June.
    Javier Gonzalez de Paz watches TikTok on a terrace in Madrid last June.Aitor Sol

    For Eva, Tiktok is “much more addictive” than other networks. “I use Instagram to talk and to see the stories, but TikTok entertains you more and shows you what interests you,” she admits. This platform followed the path of Instagram and began offering tools for time limits and breaks last June. “Having a positive relationship with digital devices and apps is not just about measuring screen time, but also about feeling in control of how we use technology and making sure that the time we spend online contributes positively to how we feel. wellness,” Jordan Furlong, Product Manager (Digital Wellbeing) at TikTok, said on the company blog, adding, “Supporting youth wellness is an industry-wide challenge, and we hope others will benefit as well.” of the publication of these results. We are proud of the changes we announced.”

    In addition to the reminders and limits, Eva says that from time to time, while browsing the application, a random video from the platform appears, encouraging her to take a break and activate those tools. This is one of the company’s strategies to “support the digital well-being of the community.” In addition to the features already explained, TikTok has a panel to review the time spent on your apps, where users can even see the number of times they’ve opened the app, a breakdown of day and night usage, and so-called “weekly digital wellness tips.” “When a user between the ages of 13 and 17 uses the app for more than 100 minutes in a single day, TikTok will send them a notice reminding them of the screen time limit tool the next time they open the app,” explains the company.

    So users can schedule their rest reminders.
    So users can schedule their rest reminders.

    For its part, Instagram plans to incorporate “nudges”, which encourage teenagers to look at other types of content when they have continuously consulted something specific. The intention of this functionality, which is being tested in the UK and Ireland, is to encourage them to discover new things, excluding what may be related to physical appearance comparisons.

    Despite the fact that the three young people consulted do not usually use these tools, Maria does use a digital well-being option on her phone during exam times. Eva simply imposes on herself the habit of not looking at her mobile for a certain time while she studies and allows herself to pick it up for five minutes during the break, something similar to what Javier does.

    Although they consider themselves responsible and mature when it comes to using social networks, they know that the habits of other kids differ quite a bit: “In Mathematics class we did a survey and they spent an average of 10 hours or so a day on their mobile” Maria comments. “A friend of mine checked one day how long he had been using his mobile and he had used it 22 hours out of 24”, adds Javier. For him, this matter depends “on the type of person you are”. “I would like to see how this evolves in the future, how it is going to affect children who have networks since they are nine or 10 years old,” he says.

    All three recognize that, sometimes, when reviewing the daily or weekly time they have dedicated to the networks or to the mobile in general, they are surprised, but it would not be a problem for them to spend a day without being able to review those applications. “On vacation, maybe I spend more time than usual, like watching series, but when I’ve been there for a long time, I stop. Most know how to manage time, although there are others who do not know how to stop or do not realize the time until five hours have passed”, says Eva.

    Enrique Echeburua explains that the capacity for self-control is greater in “people who are more psychologically balanced, more stable, who have a network of friends in their social life, who have other hobbies (such as sports). In those cases, they probably integrate social networks into a balanced range of leisure and relationships”. According to him, he adds, a 15-year-old person has a greater capacity for self-control than an 11-year-old, but if he also has friends, hobbies, etc., he will integrate that use and the risk will be lower.

    Both Instagram and TikTok have information about each feature available to young people and their parents in their help centers on-line.

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    Source: EL PAIS

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