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Instagram is adding a new ‘take a break’ feature

Instagram will try to encourage teenagers to take a break from harmful content

Photo of the Instagram app icon.
The Instagram app icon on the screen of a mobile device in New York.
Jenny Kane, Associated Press

Instagram will be adding a new feature that will encourage people to “take a break” from the app, especially teenagers who might scroll onto harmful content.

Nick Clegg, Facebook vice president of global affairs, told CNN over the weekend that the new “take a break” feature will come to the platform to steer teens away from destructive content.

  • “We’re going to introduce something which I think will make a considerable difference, which is where our systems see that a teenagers is looking at the same content over and over again, and it’s content which may not be conducive to their well-being, we will nudge them to look at other content,” Clegg said.

He said the company will add a new feature “called ‘take a break,’ where we will be prompting teens to just simply take a break from using Instagram.”

Instagram head Adam Mosseri said in a blog post on Sept. 27 that the company was exploring the “take a break” feature.

A report from The Wall Street Journal in September found that Facebook and Instagram internal researchers actively knew that Instagram can be a toxic app for teen girls.

Per The Wall Street Journal, researchers often found teens had a negative experience on Instagram. In fact, the company had a number of slides on which they wrote notes about how teens can feel while using Instagram.

  • “Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” the company’s researchers said in a slide presentation, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.”
  • “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” said another slide, according to The Wall Street Journal. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”

In the immediate aftermath, Karina Newton, Instagram’s head of public policy, said in a blog post that the company hoped to make the app better for youngsters.

  • “We’re exploring ways to prompt them to look at different topics if they’re repeatedly looking at this type of content,” Newton said. “We’re cautiously optimistic that these nudges will help point people towards content that inspires and uplifts them, and to a larger extent, will shift the part of Instagram’s culture that focuses on how people look.”