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Instagram tests pause feature 'Take a Break' meant to curb overuse

Instagram says it wants users to "shape" the app in more of the way they want to use it, but the move comes as it recently scrapped its version for kids.

The head of Instagram announced Wednesday that the company will be testing a new feature meant to stop overuse of its app which can lead to behavior issues like "doomscrolling."

Adam Mosseri posted a video to Twitter where he also wrote, "This opt-in control enables you to receive break reminders in-app after a duration of your choosing. I’m excited to dig into the results & hopefully launch this sometime in December."

Instagram describes the move as a way to better "shape" the app into what the user wants it to be. It comes just as partner platform Facebook and its newly-renamed parent company, Meta, faces a trust crisis in the wake of bombshell testimony from a whistleblower before Congress. 

With the platform recently scrapping its Instagram for kids idea, for now, experts often point to little-studied effects of social media and what it does to human development -- including things like "doomscrolling."

"Doomsurfing" or "doomscrolling" is a psychological phenomenon born from the social media age defined as a "tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing. Many people are finding themselves reading continuously bad news about COVID-19 without the ability to stop or step back," Merriam-Webster dictionary writes.

A 2017 study out of the United Kingdom labeled Instagram as the worst social media platform for young people's mental health. The study surveyed nearly 1,500 people age 14-24.

Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said about the study, "Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol, and is now so entrenched in the lives of young people that it is no longer possible to ignore it when talking about young people’s mental health issues." 

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