Instagram is discontinuing some of its shortest daily app time limit options and encouraging users to pick a longer setting, according to a report from TechCrunch. The time limit feature keeps track of how many minutes a user spends on the app each day, sending an alert once you’ve reached your preferred limit. Originally, users were able to select a time limit as low as five minutes a day, while the new options begin at 30 minutes and go up to three hours.
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 an app update. Though the popup says the user can keep their existing limit if they want, clicking the edit button directs them to select a preset option, the lowest of which is 30 minutes. An additional popup on the activity page in the app says the 10-minute value is “no longer supported.” The app had sent reminders to change the setting for a couple of weeks, the user says, and they were only able to avoid picking a new limit by force quitting the app.
A test by a US-based reporter at The Verge found that the options currently available are 30 minutes, 45 minutes, one hour, two hours, and three hours. Instagram later confirmed the daily limit options were changed, saying on Twitter that it was to avoid sending people multiple notifications at the same time. The company pointed to other time management tools introduced in recent months.
Instagram introduced the option to set daily time limits in 2018, with company representatives saying they wanted time on the app to be time well-spent. Time limiting features were rolled out as a response to criticism tech companies received about the effect their products had on the well-being of users.
“We want to empower people to make intentional decisions about how much time they spend, and how they want to engage with the app,” Ameet Ranadive, who lead a user wellbeing team at Instagram, told The Verge in 2018. The changes to daily time limit settings come just a few months after Instagram introduced the Take a Break feature, where users can opt into getting periodic reminders if they’ve been on the app continuously.
This commitment to empowering users seems at odds with the decision to remove shorter time limits from the app. In November, when the “Take a Break” feature was in testing, Instagram head Adam Mosseri emphasized that “you know what’s best for you when it comes to how you use the app.” A slightly longer time limit might not be a dealbreaker for most people on Instagram. But it’s a change that signals Instagram may be more concerned that users aren’t spending enough time on the platform rather than making sure their time is being spent well.
Update February 22nd, 12:49PM ET: Article updated with response from Instagram confirming the changes to daily app limit settings.