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A Controlled Social Media Platform/Feature to Limit Use and Prevent Addiction

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Oguntola Tobi
Oguntola Tobi Nov 18, 2021
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Social media is designed to be addictive, such that users go back over and over again and spend as much time as they can on them. According to an April 2019 Statista study, 40% of US online users between the age of 18 and 22 reported feeling addicted to social media.
Social media addiction causes a variety of problems for its victims. It causes them to struggle with work, friendship, and family, among others. These problems are exactly as you would expect for other forms of addiction and they include: mood modification, withdrawal symptoms, tolerance, conflict, and salience.
I hardly use other social media platforms apart from Twitter. However, I use it a lot. Maybe a little too much, in fact.
And when I try to fix this bad habit, I find myself failing. For example, there was a period where I used the Digital Wellbeing feature on my device to set a time limit for how I use Twitter.
Did it work?
No.
The thing is, Twitter is a very information-rich platform. And every moment I scroll through can be something new learnt, which I love to do. So, I scroll and scroll and keep scrolling while looking for the next dopamine hit from learning something new.
However, there's no shortage of new things and there will never be. So, unless I accept that and simply leave the platform regardless of the "fun thing" I'm reading or looking for, I would probably never do so. And I believe this is the case for the majority of social media users.
But what if we took that decision out of users' hands?
What if, instead of waiting for them to make the decision to leave the platform, the platform does it for them?
How?
By developing social media platforms that close. Or incorporating this feature into existing platforms.
Imagine a Twitter where users can only spend a maximum amount of three hours (or the healthy equivalent) everyday? Yes, it'll be less fun. But at the same time, it will ensure they can focus on other things and avoid addiction.
However, users can also set their own hours. And to ensure they do not break it, they can only change the time limit once a day.
I believe such measures can help combat social media addiction and ensure people can get to back to living.
2
Creative contributions

Accumulative news feed option

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J
Juranium Nov 19, 2021
Hi Oguntola Tobi! I have the same problem. Although I am maybe a bit more successful in solving this, I have a lot of friends who are not and I think this should be solved on a higher level.
If the users get an option to set their own time limit, that wouldn't be anything new actually. We can do that now with some third-party apps. What we need is for the company to change its policies and limit the time spent on the platforms - which is highly unlikely to happen.

Therefore, I propose a solution:

Accumulative news feed option

The user would set times in a day when it wants to get the news feed updated (e.g. at 8 am, 2 pm and 8 pm). On these hours, all the news since the last update would appear. The users would be able to choose if they want to sort the news according to the popularity, number of likes, categories, or other parameters. They would also be able to mark the news they checked so the same topic doesn't appear anymore. When you scroll through everything, you would get a message that you're done. It would work like the user set a really slow refresh rate (e.g. every 6 hours). In the meantime, the user would not get anything new on the feed. You would be able to wander around other people's profiles or pages, but no news for you.
Imagine getting a custom-made newspapers every six hours - that's how it would be.
The benefits
  • Better control of your time (time-management)
  • Reduced rate of social-media addiction
  • Better filtering of the news --> better quality of the news (higher signal, lower noise)
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Povilas S
Povilas S19 days ago
The limiting hour engagement policy for the social media company could, possibly, be imposed by law. It's unlikely to happen, I agree, but that's an option if the situation with social media addiction would become generally accepted as severe. Most of the drugs are illegal and even the legal ones are only sold from a certain age. On the contrary - social media is available even for kids.
But even in that case, there would be workarounds, the easiest one is to simply use another profile after reaching the limiting number of hours with your main one.
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J
Juranium18 days ago
Povilas S Hi! I am not sure if you meant to comment on this exact contribution, since you didn't comment on my proposed idea.
I agreed that the limit of social media is unlikely to happen. It would probably not be categorized as an addiction, since similar things, like e.g. gaming, are also not restricted. The accumulative feed (aka timed refresh rate) I mentioned above would be completely arbitrary.
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Povilas S
Povilas S18 days ago
Juran Yes, I meant to comment here because you mentioned that the limiting of the time spent on social media is unlikely to happen from the side of the companies owning the websites, but the comment is also addressed to Oguntola Tobi regarding the initial idea. Maybe it's not the best place for it, but a certain sentence in your contribution was what provoked it:)
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Working hours

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J
Juranium Nov 19, 2021
What if every social network would have working hours, like stock exchanges or other companies? That way, you would be able to use it only during these hours (e.g. 8 hours a day). Would that be enough? How would it affect you?
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Povilas S
Povilas S19 days ago
Different time zones existing in the world would then prevent you from communicating with people internationally. Also, different working hours/sleeping habits of different people would make this very inconvenient for the users even in the same time zone.
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J
Juranium18 days ago
Povilas S You have this problem now, too. Even a simple conversation with a friend from the USA lasts for days in my case. True, this would make it much harder, but while using social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, we rarely need quick information from someone. Usually we just say hi to an old friend or share a link to a funny video :D
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