Facebook wants to help you limit the amount of time you spend on Facebook

Managers annoyed that their employees are spending too much time on Facebook (and, let’s be honest, employees annoyed at themselves for spending too much time on Facebook) will no doubt be pleased to know they have a new ally ready to help reduce the number of minutes they spend on the social media platform: Facebook.

On Wednesday, the social media giant announced the release of several new tools designed to help users limit their time on its Facebook and Instagram platforms, including an activity dashboard, daily reminders, and the ability to limit notifications.

“We developed these tools based on collaboration and inspiration from leading mental health experts and organizations, academics, our own extensive research and feedback from our community,” Facebook director of research David Ginsberg and Instagram product management director Ameet Ranadive wrote in an Aug. 1 blog post. “We want the time people spend on Facebook and Instagram to be intentional, positive and inspiring. Our hope is that these tools give people more control over the time they spend on our platforms.”

Users can access the new tools, which will be rolled out gradually and are currently only available on mobile devices, by visiting their settings page. On Instagram, they’re grouped under “Your Activity,” while on Facebook, users can access them by choosing “Your Time on Facebook.”

Selecting these options will lead users to a dashboard displaying their average time spent on Facebook or Instagram, and selecting a day of the week will allow them to view their total time on their chosen platform on a given day.

Courtesy Facebook, and not the author. (The latter number would be much higher.)

Below the dashboard, users can set a daily reminder that will alert them when they’ve used Facebook or Instagram for the amount of time they wish to spend on it for that day.

Courtesy Facebook.

Finally, “Notification Settings” allows users to quickly access a new “Mute Push Notifications” setting that will limit the number of Facebook or Instagram notifications received during specific period of time when they need to focus – between around 9 AM and 5 PM, say.

Courtesy Facebook.

Useful as the prospect of Facebook time-limit options sounds in theory, the tools have a few limitations: According to a spokesperson, the Facebook tool currently calculates the amount of time spent on the app itself, on a specific device, nor does it include time spent on Messenger. The Instagram tool, meanwhile, does not account for time spent on the platform’s IGTV app or Direct app, and neither app’s tool accounts for time spent using the apps’ built-in browser.

So while these new options are certainly a step in the right direction, their usefulness is limited – which, if we’re honest, is about what we’d expect from a productivity tool designed by Facebook.

Now if you’ll excuse us, we have some settings to adjust.

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of ITBusiness.ca turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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