What is “Time Well Spent?”
The Time Well Spent movement is a project of the Center for Humane Technology who exists to “Reverse the Digital Attention Crisis and Realign Technology with Humanity’s Best Interest.” The idea is that we have been trained to focus so much on social media and technology that we are missing out on the quality time we’re meant to have in our lives. The CHT works to educate parents, teachers, and industry leaders on the dangers of our addiction to technology and what we can do to overcome that addiction.
Taking time to enjoy nature and have real face to face conversations are things we’ve taken for granted and the Time Well Spent movement is trying to get us back to those beneficial offline activities. We have begun to see some major social networks take notice of the desire for healthier tech use. As you’ll read below, awareness of these problems has lead to some actual changes for some of the most popular social media networks.
Not long ago Snapchat redesigned their app to be more user-friendly. They’ve also quietly added features that allow you to silence conversations for a while and added new styles of text to your snaps. The silencing feature is an obvious attempt to join the “Time Well Spent” movement.
The do not disturb feature allows you to silence groups or individuals so that you don’t get notifications from them but don’t have to leave the conversation completely this allows you to keep a streak going while taking some time off of Snapchat, it also allows you to silent someone for a bit without making them feel like you’re ignoring them. Being able to silence conversations on Snapchat can make it easier to take a break without completely silencing your phone. Sure, you want to be accessible but you may not want to be as accessible as we can be these days with social media. I say good on Snapchat for adding this new do not disturb feature.
Facebook Timeline Changes
Facebook has been taking strides to encourage their users to use the platform in a more healthy way. From notifying you when you’re reading fake news to lowering the frequency of viral video content in your timeline or removing reasons to just blindly scroll Facebook without purpose. These changes seem to have led to a decrease in time spent on Facebook to the tune of 50 million hours per day.
Zuckerberg has spent quite a bit of time talking about the responsibility Facebook has as the leading social media platform to encourage users to be more responsible with their activity online. It seems that they were willing to take this belief seriously even to the point of temporarily affecting their bottom line. Facebook’s new stats show a decrease in revenue, likely based on the usage decrease. While income was down during the last quarter of 2017, Facebook predicts that their numbers will level off as ad appearances on your timeline decreases but serious/meaningful engagement increases.
What Parents Should Know
I’ve never fully believed that the blame for addiction or overuse of tech and social media falls on developers. Yes, they can create services that encourage healthier use, and it’s good that some of them are beginning to think in that direction. The responsibility, however, falls on users to keep a healthy attitude. If our kids are who we are worried about then the responsibility to teach and model a healthy digital lifestyle falls to parents.
Monitor the time you’re spending on social media. Set limits for yourself using some kind of software, like unGlue. Learn about the clues to whether news articles are fake or reliable, how to report people online that are causing problems, and how to avoid spammers and phishers. You should take the role of educating your kids on “Time Well Spent” seriously enough to model it for them yourself.