Instagram, the social media giant owned by Facebook, is encouraging teenagers to take a break from social media, reports the New York Times.
The company announced that it has launched an online tool called “Breathe” to teach users about the importance of engaging with each other offline, and to remind users how they can stay connected to their online communities in a meaningful way.
The tool was created by research psychologists over the past two years, and is a reminder to teens about how they can better “consciously” choose the photos and videos they choose to post on social media.
“Today, self-expression is often defined in terms of posting more visual content, such as videos,” the tool states. “But being present in the moment may also be as simple as having authentic conversations with people in your real life.”
Breathe also asks users how they can curate their social media presence to enrich the user experience online.
The tool asks Instagram users to fill out a “Life Checklist,” based on research that suggests offline communication skills, like listening intently, listening to others and practicing decision-making skills, are valued by friends and families.
“Despite pressure to look better and feel better, the research also shows that overall happiness and well-being improve as social skills evolve,” the tool states.
Currently, users can use the tool to ask questions like, “How can I better connect with others offline?” and “What have you learned from your interactions with others?” Users can also pledge to set an age limit for Instagram on their profile.
In a 2016 conversation on The Story Lab podcast, Lady Gaga said that the length of social media time must not be unlimited, because it would “kill us.”
“I think that social media can be so detrimental to our psychological well-being,” Gaga said. “It should be a time for connections not our connections.”
A Pew Research Center report published earlier this year concluded that 89 percent of teenagers own a smartphone.
According to the report, teen use of social media has increased dramatically since 2014. However, it still accounts for just 1 percent of the time that teens are awake, with TV coming in first at 11 percent.
The report also revealed that four in ten teenagers spend more than five hours per day using online media, up from 38 percent in 2014.