Gone Fishing: Part I
The main objective of this Case Study is to address the effects that the Information Overload associated with Instagram might cause, by introducing an internal feature to mend the situation.
When keeping the user in mind, I am looking to provide a solution from within the application. In this way, there’s no need for an Instagram User to create their own hacky fix.
When keeping the stakeholder, Instagram, in mind, I am concerned about user-retention.
Currently, a user that wants to take a break from the application really only has three options:
- Deactivate their account
- Log out of their account and log back in when their break is over
- Delete the app and forget about it
Any decision I make along the process has to balance both of these perspectives, or else the feature could never practicably be applied.
Before I began thinking about anything design-wise, I had to get an understanding of whether or not people are actually adversely affected by Instagram. I’ve read quite a bit about Digital Detoxes and Social Media Cleanses, but just how common are these preventative efforts?
As it turns out, pretty common. I created a survey* that was sent out to my own Instagram followers, hundreds of Communications undergrads at the Florida State University, and several Discord communities that I am a part of. All in all, I received 112 responses. The survey asked the following questions:
- How frequently do you visit Instagram?
- Have you ever felt inclined to distance yourself from Social Media? Did you or have you done anything about these feelings?
- Studies show that extensive social media usage leads to an increase in anxiety in younger populations. Do you feel as if this has ever happened to you?
- If you answered yes to the question above, why do you think that social media had this effect on you? If you answered no, why do you think it did not have this effect on you?
- On Instagram, there is a dashboard to check your average daily time spent on the app. It’s under “Your Activity.” Please enter your maximum, minimum, and average.
- How do those numbers make you feel?
For the purposes of reporting my findings, I will sort the qualitative and quantitive data into 2 different categories:
- The Data
- The Insights
How frequently do you visit Instagram?
Have you ever felt inclined to distance yourself from Social Media?
Studies show that extensive social media usage leads to an increase in anxiety in younger populations. Do you feel as if this has ever happened to you?
Screen time numbers
Users who felt like their usage of Instagram has led to an increase in their anxiety wrote the following:
“I think that the expectation to keep up with the amount of things people are doing makes me feel inadequate or like I’m living incorrectly.”
“I think prolonged use of social media somehow distances you from the present while also connecting you to all the horrible things going on in the world. It’s also used as an avoidance (at least for me) for feelings I don’t want to deal with, which just makes them worse in the end.”
Users who have taken a social media cleanse in the past wrote the following:
“I deleted the app for a week. Often, I thought about re-downloading so people wouldn’t be worried about why I’m absent.”
“My friends and I have a group message where we talk to each other on a daily basis. I found myself feeling distant from them when I stepped away, and it was hard to explain why I wasn’t going to be talking to them for a while.”
“Sometimes, I would temporarily deactivate my account. Other times I would unfollow everyone. Most times, I would simply delete app.”
Of the users who reported their minimum, maximum, and average time spent on Instagram, 83 out of 141, or 58.87%, of surveyors said that these numbers concerned them.
It’s hard to draw any definitive conclusion from a single survey that asked incredibly specific questions, but I still think there’s something here. Social Media should be a place you can find an escape from the stress of real life, not somewhere you go to find more.
All that this tells me is that more research needs to be done. I would like to do some, but I’ll need help. If anyone is into UX Research and wants to extend this report, feel free to contact me and we can work something out. For now, I believe I have enough foundational information to help shape the scope of my design.
*I know you’re all thinking this, so I’ll just mention it really quickly. Yes, a survey with potentially biased questions. I’m constantly seeing the take that this is bad practice but as a broke college kid without access to industry tools/software and no network to help with research, what tools could I use to do better user research? I would really appreciate anyone who could send some resources my way!*
*takes another deep breath*
Hmm, another long post. For those of you who are bored, sorry. Leave some feedback! As for the rest, I’m assuming that if you’ve made it down here you want to see the next part of the case study. Here’s the rest of the analysis: