Is Zombie Scrolling Affecting Your Wellbeing?

This week, Facebook will introducing its digital wellbeing screen-time management dashboards for both Facebook and Instagram, initially in the U.S. before rolling it out to all users in the coming weeks.

Through various studies, Facebook concluded recently that it was “passive zombie-feed scrolling, not active communication with friends, that hurts our health”, and has since been on a mission to make tweaks to both Facebook and Instagram to support this notion.

It has been trying to improve digital well-being by showing fewer low-quality viral videos and clickbait news stories, and more from your friends since a big algorithm change in January. That’s contributed to a flatlining of its growth in North America, and even a temporary drop of 700,000 users early this year, while it also lost 1 million users in Europe this past quarter*.

The dashboard will provide users with a raw count of the minutes they’ve spent in their apps each day in the last week, plus their average across the week. The count will only work on the mobile App device however, and won’t include minutes spent on desktop.

In addition to the daily and average minute counts, you can also set a daily “limit” in minutes, after which either App will send you a reminder that you’ve crossed your self-imposed threshold.

The announcement follows Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom’s tweet: “It’s true . . . 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 . . . Understanding how time online impacts people is important, and it’s the responsibility of all companies to be honest about this. We want to be part of the solution. I take that responsibility seriously.”

As much as these changes are highly unlikely to deter us away from our favourite platforms, they are small positive steps to help make us more aware of the time spent on our devices, and the negative effects of “passive zombie-feed scrolling”. We think that can only be a good thing!

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* TechCrunch 1st August, “Facebook and Instagram now show how many minutes you use them”