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Addicted to Instagram? The app may soon tell you about it

With Instagram well on its way to a billion monthly active users, there’s a whole lot of people spending a whole lot of time on the popular app.

Following in the footsteps of Google, which recently highlighted new tools to help smartphone addicts manage the time they spend using their devices, Instagram too could be about to offer its community a quick way to see just how long they’re spending on the app.

Code spotted in the Instagram app reveals an as-yet-unreleased “usage insights” feature that will allow Instagrammers to see the amount of “time spent” on the app.

As TechCrunch points out, at this stage it’s unclear how the stats will show the usage data, whether for a day, week, month, or all time. Of course, it’s possible it could display all of these.

Perhaps sensing a movement among some smartphone users to put-down-the-phone-and-go-do-something-more-useful-instead, Google and Facebook-owned Instagram may feel that time-management tools could ultimately work in their favor, equipping users with mechanisms to help them better manage their interactions with technology, thereby giving them enough control to make them feel comfortable about their usage.

Instagram’s time-management tool could also help to give parents a better idea on how long their kids are spending on the app when they’re not around.

It’s worth restating that at this point this is merely a piece of dormant app code so it’s possible the feature may never see the light of day. But the fact that it’s there, and considering the recent focus on tech-related time management, there’s a good chance that Instagram will activate the tool in an update in the near future.

At Google’s annual developer bash last week, CEO Sundar Pichai focused on the theme of responsibility in technology. Part of this involves a new Dashboard feature for Android users that will help you keep track of how much time you spend on various apps. Coming with Android P, users will also find an alerts feature allowing you to set timers that prompt you to take a break from each app.

Google-owned YouTube has just rolled out such a feature for both Android and iOS users. But it doesn’t block access to the video-streaming site, so you still have to use all your willpower to close the app (before immediately opening another one, quite likely).

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Trevor Mogg
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