Instagram is adding a range of new updates, aimed at making the app a more healthy and pleasant place.
The app has faced intense and sustained criticism in recent years over the damaging effect it can have on the wellbeing of the people who use it. In response, parent company Meta has added a range of new features intended to make it less damaging.
Now it is adding a new “Quiet Mode” that will let people tell their friends and followers when they would prefer not to be contacted.
When that mode is switched on, people will get a status attached to their profile, notifications will be muted and anyone that tries to send a direct message will receive an automated reply.
It will also encourage people to switch it on if they appear to be using the app a lot. “Teens tell us they feel like they need to be available a lot of the time, so we will proactively prompt them to turn on Quiet Mode when they spend a certain amount of time on Instagram at night,” the company said.
Instagram will also make it easier for users to hide certain kinds of content. There will now be the option to hide multiple pieces of content from the “Explore” page, rather than having to click individually, and has added new capabilities to the “Hidden Words” tool that can be used to block certain phrases.
The app will also include new parental controls, intended to make it easier for parents to manage how their teens are using Instagram. They will now be able to see what privacy and content settings they have, as well as receiving an update when their teens change settings or block an account.
The new updates join a range of other Instagram features that look to reduce the harm that social networks can cause to the people – especially young people – who use them. The app has already added tools that encourage people to take some time away from scrolling if they do so for too long, and special notifications that try and nudge people onto other topics if they are looking at one thing for a long time, for instance.
Other tech companies have looked to add similar features, encouraging users to make sure their time spent with their devices is as healthy as possible. Apple has used recent iPhone updates to add new “Focus” features that allow people to block certain kinds of notifications or messages.