Instagram, meanwhile, hopes to stop users falling into scroll-holes with a new message alert stating ‘You’re All Caught Up’ once they have viewed their newsfeed from the past 48 hours. That’s two days of content, so hardly a light session. Platforms as visually enticing as Instagram and Snapchat, with vast power and resources behind them, could also take a more radical and moral stance to alleviate app addiction. How about in-app notifications that encourage users to take a break after, for example, 10 minutes of activity? If ignored for another five minutes, they could automatically suspend use for an hour. Or daily curfews for users under the age of 18? That would certainly demonstrate a level of awareness from these brands as to their lasting impact – something that feels particularly pertinent when Instagram has just announced IGTV, a platform tipped to promote hour-long video content.
Positively, some brands are taking a more active approach. Samsung has teamed with Thrive Global to launch the Thrive app, enabling users to switch their device to ‘Thrive Mode’, shielding them from incoming notifications for a specified period, providing a period of headspace each day. The app also encourages users to set limits on how long they can use certain apps.
While the more drastic of these solutions might feel improbable today – of course, there are company shareholders and advertisers to please – in our post-growth future it will be the brands that care about their customers’ wellbeing, more so than monetary gain, that will garner a lasting legacy by making a positive impact in the world.
To explore how tech's attention economy is leading to mental fatigue, read The Focus Filter macro trend.