How to monitor time spent on Facebook

Social media apps have become something of an addiction. Excessive use of social media isn’t good and if you own an iOS device you can limit it with Screen time. That said, not everyone uses an iPhone which is why it helps if social media apps have a way to limit how much time you spend on them. Instagram recently added a feature that can track and limit your Instagram Activity. Facebook has followed suit and you can monitor time spent on Facebook via its mobile apps.

Time spent on Facebook

This is a fairly recent feature that was added to the Facebook apps but it should be available to all users by now. It doesn’t seem to have been added to the web version though so it’s hard to say whether or not time spent on the Facebook web version will also be taken into account.

To monitor time spent on Facebook, open the Facebook app and go to the hamburger tab. Scroll down and tap on Settings & Privacy. When the option expands, you will see a ‘Your Time on Facebook’ option. Tap it.

On the Your Time on Facebook screen, you will see how much time you’ve spent using the app. Judging by my own personal time graph, it doesn’t seem to factor in the time I’ve spent on the Facebook website.

You can limit how much time you spend on Facebook by tapping the ‘Set Daily Reminder’ option on the Your Time on Facebook screen. Select how much time you want to spend on Facebook, and tap Set Reminder.

If you’ve used this same feature that Instagram has implemented, you know that the reminder will not lock you out of Facebook. It will tell you that the time you’ve set for yourself has expired but you can dismiss it easily enough and continue using the app.

If you use the Facebook apps on different iOS (or even Android) devices, your activity ought to sync across the apps at the very least. I haven’t been able to test that but that’s how it should work.

It goes without saying that a time limit imposed by your OS is better because it can restrict you when you use certain apps too much. The Facebook and Instagram apps could lock a user out if they used it too much but the feature is more a check than a restriction. Screen Time is better if you want to control social media use but it’s only an iOS feature and Android needs something similar.

Read How to monitor time spent on Facebook by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to use lens challenges on Snapchat

Social media apps rely on a few things to remain popular, or relevant; new, fresh content for users to consume, and users constantly returning and interacting with the app. Interactive features are a pretty great way to get users to stick around which is why Snapchat has added lens challenges. Lens challenges are basically recording a specific act, as defined by the lens challenge, and then asking others to do the same. Here’s how you can use lens challenges on Snapchat.

This feature is rolling out slowly to users. Make sure the Snapchat app on your phone is up to date. If you don’t see it just yet, check out pet lenses instead.

Lens challenges on Snapchat

Open Snapchat and tap anywhere on the camera view finder to load available lenses. Once the lenses start to load, tap the smiley face button to access the lens gallery.

At the top of the gallery you will see all available challenges. Tap the lens challenge that you want to try and then follow the on-screen instructions to do the challenge yourself. Once you’ve followed through on the challenge, you will be able to send it to a specific friend, add it to your story, or add it to the challenge for everyone to see.

At present, there are only four challenges that you can try. The lens challenges on Snapchat are supposed to be created by users. If you’re looking to create a lens challenge of your own, you’re going to need to use Lens Studio.

Lens Studio is a desktop app that’s available for both macOS and Windows 10. It requires a fairly decent GPU and at least 4GB RAM but your processor can be as old as a core i3. What Snapchat is basically doing is getting users to create content and make it go viral. If you create an easy but interesting lens challenge that most people can do, it will go viral. It’s that simple and you can count on brands trying their hand at it.

Social media apps like Snapchat add interactive content for users because if you really take a look at social media there isn’t much to do there. With Facebook or Twitter you might go through your feed but that too runs dry eventually. With Snapchat, you get fewer updates unless it’s someone’s job to just post on the app. The lens challenge or any other interactive features not only gives users something to ‘watch’ but also a simple way to participate.

Read How to use lens challenges on Snapchat by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to create a close friends list on Instagram

When you share something on social media, particularly on social media sites like Facebook, you may not be sharing it with your entire friends’ list or all your followers. Facebook lets you selectively share posts and Instagram has just gotten a new close friends feature that lets you create a group of people to quickly share your Instagram story with. Here’s how you can create a close friends list on Instagram.

Close friends list on Instagram

Open Instagram and go to your profile tab. Tap the hamburger icon at the top right and from the navigation drawer that opens, tap Close Friends. Search for the friends you want to add to the list and when you’ve selected all the ones you want to add, tap Done.

The Close friends list lets you control the audience for your Instagram story. When you’re about to share something to your story, you can quickly tap the Close Friends option at the bottom left and share it with only the people in your close friends list.

When you share a post with just your close friends, they will see the ‘Close friends’ label on their side as well. This should, technically, discourage them from screenshoting and sharing the post elsewhere however, if your post does end up being shared with the wrong person the Close Friends label ought to help narrow who might have done it.

Close friends is a great feature and Instagram should allow users to create more than just one quick sharing group. It goes without saying that users tend to segregate who they share certain posts with. Some posts are meant for everyone, some for a few close friends, and some only for family, while others are meant for everyone except the family. Instagam can replicate the feature from Facebook, or it can simplify it to suit the app’s sharing method better.

This feature is available on both iOS and Android however, it does not seem to have rolled out to all users. The roll out appears to be user specific and not regionally restricted. We haven’t been able to figure out a way to force the feature so if you don’t see it yet, you’re going to have to wait until the roll out is complete. Make sure you keep the Instagram app up to date. The change log for the app may state that it will add the new feature however it won’t appear in the app unless Instagram decides to enable it for your profile.

Read How to create a close friends list on Instagram by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to sync steps from an activity tracker to Pokèmon Go

One of the major shortcomings that Pokèmon Go had when the game was first released was that you had to have it open all the time in order to track any distance you had walked. This was a huge drain on your phone’s battery. Android users were able to work around it with rooted devices but the fix didn’t always work. That limitation has been removed though. Not only can the app read the number of steps you’ve taken from your device’s various sensors, you can also sync steps from an activity tracker to Pokèmon Go.


This will work for any activity tracker that;

  • Supports Apple Healthkit or Google Fit
  • Can sync steps data directly or indirectly to your phone via its health app

An activity tracker must meet all of the above requirements in order for this to work.

Connect activity tracker

Some activity trackers can sync steps data directly to Apple Health or Google Fit. Others require their own proprietary app to be installed on your phone and you must sync the data to the app. The app then connects to either Apple Health or Google Fit and adds the steps data.

Since there are a lot of activity trackers out there, we can’t go into detail on how to connect each one however, all manufacturers have directions for syncing the data to your phone, whether it’s an iPhone or an Android phone, on their website. The activity tracker’s own app will also walk you through the steps in some cases.

Adventure Sync on Pokèmon Go

One you have your activity tracker connected to your phone, and sending data to its health app you need to enable Adventure Sync on Pokèmon Go. This feature allows the app to connect to the stock health app on your phone, and read steps data from it.

Open Pokèmon Go and tap the Pokèball at the bottom of the screen. On the next screen that opens, tap Settings. Scroll down the Settings screen, and enable Adventure Sync. You will then need to grant Pokèmon Go permission to read data from the stock health app. Once that’s done, the game will be able to ready steps that are synced from your activity tracker to the stock health app as well as steps recorded by your phone’s sensors, and add the distance traveled accordingly.

If you want to know what good this is since it won’t let you catch any new Pokèmon, the answer is: eggs. You can hatch eggs with the app closed, and just your phone or activity tracker counting your steps.

Read How to sync steps from an activity tracker to Pokèmon Go by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to send audio messages on Instagram

Instagram has been working to improve the messaging side of its app. It may be a place to share photos but it is slowly also becoming a messaging platform for many users. We’d be lying if we said messaging wasn’t something everyone was getting into and Instagram isn’t any different. The newest feature to  be added to the app allows you to send audio messages on Instagram.

Audio messages on Instagram

Make sure you’re running the latest version of the Instagram app on you phone. This feature is available for both  iOS and Android and it works only via direct messages.

Open the Instagram app and tap the paper plane button at the top. This will take you to your Direct Messages screen. Start a new chat thread or tap an existing one. In the enter text field you will see a mic icon. Tap and hold it to record an audio message. When you release it, the message will be sent.

There aren’t any apparent limitations on how long a video message can be and whether or not it will expire after a certain period of time. At present, the feature is implemented with little attention to convenience. If you look at the same feature on Whatsapp, you will see that you can record voice messages in a hands-free mode which makes it far easier to use.

Instagram has been working to improve the social aspect of its app for a while now. It does routinely copy features from Snapchat to make its core function i.e., sharing pictures and videos, more interactive but it has been introducing new ways that people can connect with each other quickly.

In October, it introduced Nametags which are basically QR codes for following users. What’s odd is that this feature comes after video chat was introduced. Not only has Instagram supported video chat since June of this year, it also supports group video chats. The audio messages maybe ought to have come first but regardless the sequence, they will be useful.

Instagram is owned by Facebook and the company is always looking to corner the market on photo sharing and messaging apps. Considering it owns both Instagram and Whatsapp, and obviously Facebook Messenger, it’s safe to say that it has the monopoly it wants. Facebook has been in the news for breaching trust and being shady about user data and privacy so if people eventually abandon the platform, they will look for alternatives. It helps if Facebook already owns the popular ones.

Read How to send audio messages on Instagram by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter