Although these features seem to be a ‘safeguarding step’ in the right direction, it’s important to realise that no feature is fool proof. There are many ways children and young people can get around them. In some cases, it is as easy as selecting ‘Ignore.’
Features like Take a Break only work if users participate and engage with them. Prompts are easily ignored and dismissed – think of how many times you’ve pressed snooze on your alarm clock, only to press it again when it goes off!
For many young people, using Instagram (and similar apps) is an easy, fun and enjoyable activity. To encourage a young person to develop a healthy relationship with screen time, the best exchange is an equally easy, enjoyable activity. This is worth keeping in mind while trying to offer alternative suggestions for a young person to ‘take a break.’
Although the ‘Take a Break’ feature does suggest alternative activities, it doesn’t inform users why they should take a break from scrolling on the app. Young people may not realise that some online content or too much screen time can have negative consequences, such as affecting mental health. They also may not know that other activities, like going for a walk or writing down what they’re thinking, can benefit them physically and mentally.