Instagram’s “Nighttime Nudges” released to “protect teens” from late-night scrolling
Meta has released a new bedtime story for Instagram users. It’s called “Nighttime Nudges,” a feature that politely suggests teens to log off after 10 minutes of late-night scrolling. Announced with much fanfare, these nudges are Instagram’s newest attempt to show they care about the digital well-being of their young users. But let’s dig into it and some of its previous attempts to look like they care.
“Time for a break?” the app will ask, followed by a gentle prod: “It’s getting late. Consider closing Instagram for the night.” How thoughtful of Instagram, right? This automatic feature appears after 10 p.m. and teens can’t turn it off. But don’t worry, they can still dismiss it with a tap… Because we all know how good teens are at self-regulating their screen time.
Instagram is following in the digital footsteps of TikTok, which introduced a similar ‘bedtime’ feature last year. In addition to the nighttime nudge, Instagram already has a “Take a Break” feature and “Quiet Mode.” It’s almost like they’re saying, “We know we’re addictive, but look, we’re trying!”
Last week, Meta announced plans to further enrich teen accounts by limiting their exposure to harmful content, like posts about self-harm and eating disorders.
While Meta wants to appear as if it cares about its users, we can conclude from its features (and from our common sense) that it’s not the case. Sure, Instagram introduced a bunch of new features last year, including an opportunity to set your daily time limit. But then, they quietly extended the maximum time you can spend on the app.
Sure, you can only have one account… But Instagram will nudge you to create more. Even Facebook now lets you legally have multiple profiles. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Instagram and Meta, formerly Facebook Inc., benefit by increasing engagement—and ad revenue—among people who might have become apathetic.”
And let’s not forget Threads, a whole new app Meta built to take on Twitter and make you spend even more time on their platforms. In the beginning, it was even tied to your Instagram account, so if you wanted to dip your toes and then delete Threads – it would kill your Instagram account, too.
Plenty of legal drama has been surrounding Meta over the past few years. Over 40 states are suing the company, accusing its apps of “deliberately addicting children to social media.” Texas Attorney General sued Meta over unauthorized capture and use of biometric data, and its (now dead) facial recognition system. There are also lawsuits from Maryland and Seattle schools over Meta’s “addictive platforms.”
Meanwhile, the European Union is also knocking on Meta’s door for more info about their child safety measures on Instagram. So, is Instagram’s latest feature a genuine step towards protecting teens or just another checkbox in their corporate responsibility list? As Meta gears up for their Senate appearance and battles legal challenges, these “Nighttime Nudges” might just be the perfect lullaby to sing their commitment to child safety.
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.