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Instagram- Screen time redesign


Project overview


UX and

UI Design


User interviews


The project goal is to redesign a feature for a common app. I chose Instagram as I believe that Instagram holds a huge responsibility in shaping society today due to its influence on people globally. I re-designed the screen time feature by placing a timer on the screen every time a user logins. It will make them conscious of the time they spend on Instagram. 




2 weeks


Mindless scrolling on Instagram can lead to hours spent if left unchecked. Due to the ease of use and search of 'new content, users get addicted to the content, and it might lead to problems like eating disorders, lack of attention among users, extensive wastage of time and energy, bullying and exclusion, unrealistic physical body expectations, normalization of risk-taking behaviours, and much more.


I find it extremely difficult to keep a check on time on Instagram. With the introduction of reels, I believe that people keep scrolling to find new content and spend hours without realization. 

To be more responsible towards the users, I re-imagined what it might look like if we give them the liberty of knowing the time spent on the app without the extra steps of going into the settings and checking for screen time.


The final outcome of this project is the redesign of the screen time feature on Instagram. In the proposed solution, users can see a timer on the screen as soon as they log in. The timer will show the time elapsed since they last logged in and help them reduce mindless scrolling. They have the option of opting out of this feature if they do not want to see the timer.

Users can also share their screen time with their friends, and the one with the lowest screen time per week will be a winner. The idea behind this feature is that people are motivated by rewards, and by competing with their friends, chances are that they will be encouraged to spend their time consciously.

User Research

Total participants:5


Questions asked during the interview:

1. What do you use Instagram for?

2. How much time do you spend on Instagram per day?

3. What are the problems you face when using Instagram?

Key insights

1. Users use Instagram during their leisure time, but they find themselves constantly looking at Instagram every time they get a break.

2. Users on average use Instagram for 1-2 hours per day.

3. By scrolling for extended periods, they find it difficult to keep a check on their time. 

Problem in detail


Instagram is a platform where the content is created by the users, and the service is available 24/7  and has 2 billion monthly active users.


When consumption goes unchecked, novel problems arise, such as lack of attention among users, extensive wastage of time and energy, bullying and exclusion, unrealistic physical body expectations, normalization of risk-taking behaviours, and much more. 


In these multi-level problems, I tried to address one issue at a time: using Instagram mindlessly for hours. The pandemic has forced most of us online at incomparable rates. As the pandemic eased, our social habits did not change much, and we were stuck in mindless scrolling on the internet, whether it was on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok or Facebook. Human bodies are not designed to consume content at this pace, and as our collective digital time creeps upward, something called cybersickness seems to be leaking into the general population. 


By spending so much time on the internet, we have experienced actual fatigue and attention disorders. Social media can trigger feelings of envy and cause you to lose sight of the everyday moments in a relationship that leads to ultimate satisfaction and not just temporary happiness.

Problem at hand

Addressing the issue of mindless scrolling on Instagram and putting a check on user behaviour.

How might we make Instagram more responsible with respect to the time spent by the user on the platform?

User story

As an Instagram user, who wants to use Instagram quickly so that they can keep a check on their friends and keep themselves updated with news updates.

Pain points

-Users use Instagram to get a quick laugh on posts or reels but keep scrolling to find new content resulting in a waste of time.


-Users' minds get addicted to new content. Hence users reach out to their phones multiple times per hour.


-Can spend hours on Instagram unconsciously.


-Can not concentrate for a more extended period on various daily essential tasks.


-Feels distracted when doing other things.

Competitive analysis- Tik Tok

TikTok is a direct competitor of Instagram on a global level. TikTok is a Chinese social media platform which hosts short-form videos ranging from 10 secs-10 mins and is owned by ByteDance. 


Family pairing

1. To enable family pairing, one can access them in the ‘Profile’ button on the bottom right corner. Tap on it to open the next menu.

2. Once you tap ‘Profile’ you can see the settings and privacy option. Tap on it to proceed. 

3. In the settings and privacy you can see the options for Screen time and family pairing.

4. In the family pairing screen you can see the available features to manage the tool.

5. You can access it as a teen or a parent.

6. Once you select your preference, you’ll get a QR code to link with the devices. Once you do that you’ll have further options to manage your linked devices.

Screen time management

3. By following the same process as before, In the settings and privacy you can see the options for Screen time and family pairing.

4. In the screen time screen you can see the available features to manage the tool.

There are screen time, screen time breaks, sleep reminders and chart displaying the screen time for a week.

5. You can schedule a break during the use. There are multiple options to choose from.

6. You can also set up your daily screen time to keep a check of your use of the app and get notified once you’ve reached the limit. 

7. You can also set up your sleep reminders.

App analysis- Instagram

Instagram home: when you open Instagram from your account you see the home screen. 

Your profile screen: On the profile screen you can see your recent posts, reels and drafts.

Instagram offers both light and dark mode on the app for users  to choose from. 

Instagram home screen in dark mode.

Screen for reels. You can like, comment and share on the reel from this screen.

On the search screen, you can see relevant posts and reels. You can explore and connect with other creators on the platform.

On the profile page, you can access the settings and check other covert options. For our problem, which is time management, we do not see any feature that allows us to manage screen time.

In messages, you can check your direct messages and connect with other people.

No time management tools in the settings. 

Creator tools: you can add stories and make reels by accessing this feature.

Recently added feature in the 'Your activity' option. I believe it is updated in the recent feature.


From my understanding, Instagram does have screen time management tools, which I believe are introduced in the recent update and are still in development. They are hard to find as the user has to dig a lot in the settings menu.


My proposal for the problem is that adding a feature that is quickly accessible and easy to use, will allow the users to feel accountable for their time on Instagram and will add value to the users and provide them with the liberty to use the platform responsibly.


Information architecture

Information architecture.png

The idea for the proposed user flow is that:

  1. To add a timer on the screen so that the users may know how much time is elapsed while using Instagram.

  2. Share your screen time with friends. By utilizing the motivation by rewards and competition, one who had the lowest screen time in the week will be the winner.


In the initial process, I quickly sketched my ideas to make them tangible and using them as my starting point. Here, I am exploring various options for my proposed solution.

Mid-fi wireframes

Home screen: Has timer on the screen that displays the amount of time spent since the last pick up.

Profile: From profile screen, user can go to the settings. Timer is still on the screen to keep the user aware.

Settings: From profile screen, user can tap the hamburger menu on the top right to access the settings.

Settings: From settings, a user can access screen time management (added feature).

Screen time management: A user can access the settings for the new feature. Here they can set up reminders, or share their screen time with friends.

Screen time sharing: Users also have a liberty to either share their screen time, or even a timer on their screen.

Screen time: By tapping the timer on screen, users can see their screen time and of their friends.

Reminders: choose options or create custom.

Reminders: toggle on/off to access the feature.

User testing

For testing, I sent the prototype to five of my peers. I created a testing plan asking them what features to follow and a brief of a prototype to help them understand what to expect. 

The feedback that I got from user testing is:

  1. Users mentioned that it looked like the feature monitors their screen activity on Instagram, and it felt like it was violating their personal space.

  2. ‘I do not want to know my screen time as I use Instagram in my leisure time also. It feels like guilt-tripping.

  3. ‘I think apps try to grow by trying to engage more users. But as a user, definitely, it will be a useful feature.

  4. ‘Definitely, very helpful for a person like me.'

  5. The flow of the app was easy to follow as the users were fairly familiar with Instagram.

  6. Some mentioned that they do not prefer the placement of a timer in the front.

  7. ‘I like the idea, but it can get contradictory. The timer is to monitor my time while sharing it on Instagram, requires me to come on the platform and use it.’

Implementation of feedback:

  1. Changed the colour of the timer from red to yellow as some users might find the red timer similar to screen recording and it might freak them out.

  2. Labelled the timer as screen time so that the users do not get confused by looking at just the numbers.

  3. Placed the edit button right on the screen time sharing so that the users can edit it right away and they would not have to dig in to go to settings. 

  4. Made the screen time sharing more consistent and playful. Added the screen time chart on the same screen to get a quick overview.


Biggest challenge I faced during the project

In this project, I found that a lot of the time, users do not know what they need. When we show something new to the users, the first reaction is always resistance because they are accustomed to using something in their own way and do not want to change their habits.

How I addressed the problem?

To address this situation, I created AB versions of the design and tested them with my users. Some of my users resisted the same feature, while some of them actually wanted to use it. So, I customized the design with the feature that was more functional.

What did I learn?

In this project, I learned that we, as designers, are the decision-makers and that users are often not always right. We must be reasonable in our designs and let the users get used to the change. We should abide by the rules of functionality and better experience, as a good product is always the one which solves real problems.

Final screens

Core features

A timer on the screen starts up every time the user logs in. It lets the user know how much time is elapsed to keep their screen time on check on Instagram. 

By tapping the timer, users can check their screen time and share it with their friends. Competition and rewards will encourage the users to use the app responsibly. One with the lowest screen time in the week will be the winner.

Screen time timer stays prevalent on the app during the use.

Users can invite their friends to share screen time. The feature for screen time sharing and the timer is completely optional as I did not want to overwhelm the users with the information. 

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