In screenshots sent to TechCrunch by an Instagram user who had previously set a 10-minute daily limit, a popup now appears at the top of their feed urging them to set a new daily limit value in accordance with Instagram’s update. Although the popup states that the user can keep their current daily limit, clicking the edit icon directs them user to new options, where the daily limit cannot be shorter than 30 minutes. Instagram has been sending reminders to update the app for weeks, and the only way for users to avoid changing their daily limit is by force quitting the app when the new settings menu appears.
A test conducted by a reporter from The Verge found that the currently available daily limit options are 30 minutes, 45 minutes, one hour, two hours, and three hours. Meta, which owns Instagram, has yet to respond to questions sent by The Verge.
The daily limit option was introduced by Instagram in 2018. Representatives of Instagram then claimed that this would help the user make the time spent on the app better. The introduction of the daily limit was a response to criticism leveled at technology companies about the effect their products have on consumer health.
“We want to empower people to make intentional decisions about how much time they spend, and how they want to engage with the app,” said Ameet Ranadive, leader of of Instagram’s Wellbeing Team, in 2018. The changes to Instagram’s daily limit settings come just a few months after it introduced the ‘Take a Break’ feature, where users can opt into receiving notifications if they’ve been using the app continuously for too long.
Instagram’s commitment to greater user engagement explains the shift from shorter time limits to a minimum of 30 minutes. In November, when the ‘Take a Break’ option was in the testing phase, Instagram head Adam Mosseri emphasized that the user should “know what’s best for [them] when it comes to how [they] use the app.” Increasing the minimum daily limit is unlikely to be a dealbreaker for most people, but it may point to the fact that Instagram is more concerned about the amount of time users spend on the app rather than the quality of this time.