“Time Well Spent”: The Ideology of Temporal Disconnection as a Means for Digital Well-Being

Ana Jorge, Inês Amaral, Artur de Matos Alves


After facing an intense negative reaction to their accumulation of social, political, and economic power and influence, several tech and social media companies rolled out “digital well-being” tools during the second half of 2018. This article examines the technological and discursive construction of “digital well-being” as enacted through operating system-based tools (Screen Time and Do Not Disturb—iOS, Digital Wellbeing—Android, My Analytics—Microsoft) and social media platform application functions (Your Time—Facebook, Time Watched—YouTube, Your Activity—Instagram). While the companies’ discourse deploys an imaginary centered around ethics and a normative experience accentuating the willfulness and empowerment of the user, the sociomaterial analysis of the interfaces and features shows that they envisage simple, familiar, and limited possibilities of disconnecting. Therefore, agency is limited, and the well-being outcomes are indeterminate, restricted to quantifying time or controlling the intentionality of connectivity.


operating system, quantified self, techlash, screen time, smartphone, platforms, social media

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