Facebook’s New Dashboard Explained
For some time now, there has been a growing concern that there is actually a significantly negative impact derived from over-indulgence in the usage of digital platforms. For this reason, several of the most prominent social media organizations have been working on programs which promote digital well-being, and more responsible usage of the social media platforms.
In mid-November 2018, Instagram launched a program which provided monitoring and tracking tools so that users could be more aware of time spent on the platform. In late November, Facebook has now launched its own version of monitoring and tracking tools, by way of its Time Spent Dashboard in the main app.
This dashboard allows users to keep track of all the time that they have actively spent on Facebook every day, and also permits the setting of prompts so that usage time can be limited. The dashboard is available within the functions listing, and it allows you to keep track of your total time spent every day on Facebook. It also permits the setting of daily reminders, and it lets you change your settings, so that better usage of time spent in Facebook can be achieved.
How to use the Dashboard
To access these tools, any user will have to go to the Settings page, and then click on the selection for ‘Your Time on Facebook’. At the very top, there will be a dashboard depicting the average time you have spent on Facebook with the device you’re currently using. From this point, you can tap on any bar to display total daily time spent on the platform.
Below the dashboard, you have the capability of setting a daily reminder, so that an alert is provided once you have reached the threshold you set for that specific day. You can change the reminder or cancel it at any time. You can also click on notification settings, so that you can access a brand-new setting called Mute Push Notifications. This new setting will allow you to limit your Facebook notifications for any time frame where you would like them disabled, so that you can focus on something more important.
Facebook’s own investigation
Facebook itself recently investigated the whole ‘time spent’ issue, and discovered that passive engagement on the social media does indeed have the potential for causing negative mental health issues in users. This of course, was very unwelcome news for the social media giant, since its existence depends on persuading users to come to the platform every day, and to spend as much time as possible there.
On the other hand, as a company with a social conscience, it has concerns for the welfare of its users, and must do whatever is possible to avoid all negative impacts. The new dashboards for both Facebook and Instagram were announced in August, and both are considered to be part of the ‘time well spent’ trend, which the tech world seems to be currently obsessed with.
The Facebook dashboard allows users to set a time limit for being on the application, and when that threshold is reached, a reminder pops up to inform the user. This information will be retained, so that you can tell your history of time spent on the application for every day of the previous week.
There are some platforms which take this to the next level, and actually allow users to prevent themselves from using apps once they have reached a certain threshold. Google’s Digital Well-being is one of these, and another is Apple’s Screen Time, with both of these temporarily graying out the application usage button after a threshold is reached. Of course, the user does have the option of changing the settings, so that usage can be re-enabled, but it does take a conscious effort to change the settings, and override the limitation.
Limitations of Facebook’s monitoring
Facebook’s implementation of the monitoring and tracking of time spent by users is similar to Instagram’s rollout in one regard: neither one forces you to spend less time on the platform. While this is entirely understandable, it does fall short of a truly useful monitoring and tracking tool. There is nothing in the dashboard which forces you to curtail your usage, or even recommends that you back off somewhat.
All that really happens is that you are delivered a daily limit notification when you reach a certain threshold – but this can be easily dismissed and the user can continue on with the platform. While the notifications leave much to be desired in terms of limiting user time spent on the platform, it is at least noteworthy that this is a significant first step toward that potential end result.
For the time being, Facebook and Instagram are both providing you with tools which can focus on the potential problems you might have with access usage on the platform, without enforcing any kind of rules about that usage. It is possible that both social media giants could do more, for instance possibly featuring exactly how much time you spend in each area of the application, so that your future usage can be more profitable and more useful. However, tracking dashboards are at least a very worthwhile first step toward eventual curtailment of usage.
Practical benefits of Facebook’s new dashboard
What remains to be seen are the practical benefits of Facebook’s new dashboard. Even though the information is relevant and can be very useful to all Facebook users, there is a serious question about how many users will actually avail themselves of the new dashboard service. Anyone who is a hard-core Facebook user, doesn’t really care about how much time he/she is wasting on the platform, and certainly doesn’t want to be reminded of the fact by tracking statistics which bear this out.
In effect, this would be announcing to you how much time you have wasted each day, and how much time could have been spent more productively on other tasks or issues. The effort by Facebook is definitely laudable, but most experts believe it will fall well short of achieving what it theoretically is intended to. In the grand scheme of things, most Facebook users are probably not going to check on their usage statistics, but will instead keep using the platform in the same way that they have been for years.