Leading photo and video sharing platform Instagram has shared its plans to introduce two new tools, ‘take a break’ and ‘nudge’, which will enlist user preferences and data to protect the mental well-being of its teenage users. ‘Take a break’ is an optional feature that will allow the user to set up a reminder on the app, alerting them that they have spent enough time scrolling and should take a break. In contrast to the user-controlled ‘take a break’ feature, the ‘nudge’ feature will analyze a user’s history and detect when they have repeatedly viewed a piece of content. The algorithm will determine if this content is harmful to their emotional well-being and suggest alternatives that could interest them and prove to be better for their mental health.
The news of these new features comes after the testimony that Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen gave before the US Congress. Haugen’s shocking statements revealed the extent of the damaging effect that both Facebook and Instagram have on children’s self-esteem and overall mental health.
Speaking of the corrosive damage that the social media giant is creating, Haugen said, “The choices being made inside Facebook are disastrous — for our children, for our public safety, for our privacy, and for our democracy. And that is why we must demand Facebook make changes.”
Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, responded to these claims by sharing the news of these features and how they are being put in place to safeguard teens and reduce their exposure to harmful content online. Speaking on CNN’s State of The Union program, Clegg said, “We are going to introduce new controls for parents of teens, on an optional basis obviously, so that adults can supervise what their teens are doing online.” He used this platform to outline further the ‘take a break’ and ‘nudge’ features, which he shared were being implemented to combat the fears that social media platforms are detrimental to the mental health of today’s youth.
No word has been given on precisely when these features will launch, but it is being predicted that they could come into action by the end of this year.