Instagram and Facebook now both have metrics that show you how much you use each platform, but they’re completely skewed for anyone with more than one device.
The idea is a good one: people spend too much time on social networking, and by letting them know how much time they’re wasting scrolling through their feed, they can maybe help curb some of the overuse. This feature is new to both platforms, with Instagram’s rolling out last week and Facebook’s starting today.
Where You Can Find Your Usage Statistics
If you want to check out your stats, it’s nary more than a few taps away.
On Instagram, tap your profile icon, open the menu, then choose Your Activity.
On Facebook, tap on the menu, expand the Settings & Privacy menu, then choose Your Time on Facebook.
Easy enough to find, but there’s one catch: these aren’t all that useful.
These Statistics Aren’t as Useful as They Could Be
If you’ll notice, there’s a key phrase that you should pay attention to: on this device. While that may not be a big deal for Instagram since it’s primarily a mobile phone app, considering this any sort of real-world statistic for Facebook is just…innacurate.
At this point, Facebook is prolific. It’s available on phones, the web, and tablets, and if you’re a user who switches between these kinds of devices throughout the day, these numbers are meaningless to you. For example, you may look at Facebook on your phone in the morning over coffee, then on your computer throughout the day at work, then on a tablet in the evening while lounging on the couch. In that case, you’re using the service on three different devices, with each one offering its own set of use metrics.
But there’s no reason it should be like this. There’s no reason why Facebook can’t share its usage metrics for your account instead of that device. Except maybe that’s part of the plan—if you do spread your use across a few (or even two) devices, then your “Time per day” results will be skewed when you look at them, making it seem like you’re spending less time than you really are. If people don’t think they’re spending an unreasonable amount of time on Facebook, then they’re unlikely to change their usage habits. And that’s the problem this is supposed to help solve.
But It’s Not All Bad
On the upside, there is one redeeming feature for both platforms: the daily reminder. If you’re at least somewhat aware of how much time you spend on each network and want to curb your usage, you can set an alert in the Your Activity/Your Time page to help keep yourself in check.
And in the case of Facebook, where you’re likely to use it across multiple devices, just keep in mind how much you use it on your other gadgets, too. And maybe, eventually, Facebook will fix this to start showing your real usage—not just that particular device.