Is it right for tech companies to cap our social media usage?

Is it right for tech companies to cap our social media usage?

Social Media has become an integral part of how we communicate and interact with each other within our society.  As we know, there are many pros and cons that come with this technology. As such, constantly scrolling on our feeds during our day-to-day lives has become second nature to many of us. With there being scientific proof of a strong association between the social media and bad mental health this begs the question: should there be limitations on our usage? This also opens us up to consider the role that tech companies are playing in combating this societal problem.

 

In the last few months, social media giants Facebook and Instagram announced the release of a new tool which limits how much time users spend on their apps. On the one hand, it is great to see that these companies are taking the ethical initiative to combat social media addiction and mental health. Especially when in recent times their ethical standards have been challenged by the political elite i.e. Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. But restricting access is a slippery slope, after all shouldn’t we have the independent capacity to know when enough is enough?

 

What tech companies are not factoring in is how social media is now an industry within itself. As bloggers, models, and online personalities all rely on being consistently present online with the vast amount of money they are generating –  the social media industry is estimated to be worth 39 billion euros by 2019. I would go as far as to say this tool was needed 10 years ago as these platforms were beginning to emerge because it is now systematically entrenched both culturally and economically, and any pattern to reverse this will be a difficult challenge.

 

Leading on from this, although it is a great that tech companies are finally realising the harm constant social media usage. It is questionable if restricting our usage is actually a violation of our rights. Since other industries do not take this kind of hands on intervention. what next? Netflix putting restrictions on how many episodes you can watch in one sitting? Phone companies limiting the number of messages we can send?  Our society prides itself on being liberal and free, yet this kind of intervention would be doing the exact opposite. Our lives would be controlled day-by- day, hour-by-hour.

 

Instead of taking such a radical approach, small steps can be taken to allow users to consider the extent of their usage. Perhaps, an app where you can track the usage or a notification that pops up when you’ve spent more than an hour on a device. I feel this is a happy medium as it opens up the eyes of users but without restricting their choice to scroll.

 

Although our society at the time was not fully ready for safeguarding nor the negative repercussions of the internet and social media. It is great to see that they are taking a step in the right direction for future generations.