According to my phone, I spend an average of one hour and 40 minutes per day on Instagram. This information, obviously, horrifies me. Prior to this discovery, if you'd asked me to estimate that number, I would have rattled off a guess more along the lines of 25 minutes — a very cute amount of time. Thusly, upon learning this truth about myself, I immediately set a 45-minute daily time limit on the app (which I have since, um, ignored on one or two occasions). And then I conducted some research.
An unofficial poll of 33 Refinery29 readers revealed that six use Instagram for less than 30 minutes a day, 13 people use it between 30 minutes and one hour, nine use it between one and two hours, and five use it for more than two hours a day. (One person even uses it for an average of four hours per day, but no judgment.) The average: 72 minutes per day.
No matter who you ask, most can agree that Instagram is pretty damn addictive — even despite its often negative impact on user mental health. So we challenged our readers to report their daily Instagram use over the past week and tell us how they feel about that number. Here's what they had to say. To find out your own daily average, click the three lines in the top right corner of your profile and select Your Activity.
Less than one hour per day
"I feel really good about not having/using Instagram. I almost feel lucky for not having gotten into it when it started — there is so much stuff that I don't have to care about, or see, or keep up with, and I don't even know what I'm missing (literally). I'm so grateful for past me thinking that Instagram was just gonna be a small fad and then disappear." — Katrine, 23, 0 minutes/day
"I deleted the app off of my phone a couple of months ago. I didn't like how much time I was spending on it, and I also didn't like the way it made me feel. It's hard for me to not compare my life to the lives of others on the platform — both people I know in real life, and people I've never even met. I would feel content, but then I would go on Instagram and feel bad about myself — how much money I had, my marriage, my weekend plans, and more. I also feel like it made me more cynical. I was starting to become a hater. Colleagues and friends would annoy me so much with their posts and their captions. I told myself that I wanted to like these people in real life, and if I didn't have a clue about their over-posting about a vacation, dinner, or other event, I would actually be more interested in talking to them about these things in person, the old-fashioned way." — Karen, 34, 0 minutes/day
"I burned out on IG influencers a year or so ago, so now I only look at people I know IRL and a couple of funny little comics. I was sick of being sold every little thing and it would make me grumpy. Now it makes me happy to see what people are up to. I usually check in the morning and if I'm in line somewhere." — Jackie, 34, 34 minutes/day
"Instagram definitely messes with my mental health sometimes. For example, I’m currently studying abroad and I always feel this pressure to post tons of pictures and stories to show everyone how much I’m traveling. And then I get anxious that my pictures aren’t good enough or I’m not pretty enough or interesting enough." — Emma, 21, 35 minutes/day
"I did a social media detox two months ago, and prior to that, I remember my daily average being over an hour a day. When I took my detox, I thought it would free up more space in my brain for other activities or creative avenues. But I just kept thinking about what I was missing out on and how I wanted people to know what I was up to. I'm proactively trying to be on social media less, since I did find the detox to be somewhat refreshing. However, I don't set a time limit for myself. I find that when I do that, I just end up overriding the limit anyway. I reach for it throughout the day as I complete work tasks as a little interlude between work projects. I also look at it when I go to the bathroom (gross, I know, I'm sorry!), and sometimes when the show I'm watching hits a low/boring point. I also reach for it when I am early to social plans and I have no one to talk to while I wait for my other friends." — Janelle, 24, 39 minutes/day
Between one and two hours per day
"Honestly it's a little lower than I was expecting — it feels like I am on the app for so much longer. I know I have an Instagram addiction and I really do think it affects my mental health. It's hard to give up when you have been using an app every day since 2012, I feel like I have to constantly scroll until I see the last picture I saw from the previous time I was on Instagram or I am missing out on something. It's so unhealthy and it makes me sad that I waste so much time, but it truly has become an addiction." — Emily, 23, 52 minutes/day
"Makes me feel so disappointed! All of those little moments you scroll through the feed really add up. Lately, I have been trying to minimise my social media usage, but I often find myself mindlessly reaching for my phone and scrolling. It makes it difficult to be fully present in whatever else I have going on in the moment, whether that be work, petting my dog, watching TV or anything else! It's almost like a mindless trance I get put into. Honestly, writing all of this down makes me realise I should really try harder to cut down my Instagram time." — Samantha, 24, 1 hour and 29 minutes/day
"I am honestly impressed! I thought [my number] was higher. I don't really set a limit for myself, but I do try to put my phone away while I'm with my daughter in the evenings. Usually I refrain from anything on my phone until I get settled in at my desk for the day. With a toddler, my mornings have no room for distractions and wastes of time. I'm usually making sure waffles aren't flying across the room. Nighttime is usually when I fall victim to the scroll. I love watching IG stories and will do that while I lie in bed at night." — Kristyn, 30, 1 hour and 37 minutes/day
"Instagram is a release for me. I like going through fashion Instagrams and my guilty pleasure is Beyoncé fan accounts. Most of my discovery feed is from Beyoncé fan accounts or bold-minimalist Insta fashion brands. I don't think it affects my mental health per se, but I do get down on myself when I realise I've spent X amount of time mindlessly browsing. I've gotten into a horrible habit of constantly reaching for my phone at work, and I often forget why I even picked it up in the first place. I'm also on Instagram before I go to bed and often fall asleep while browsing." — Ariana, 25, 1 hour and 51 minutes/day
Over two hours per day
"I've made a conscious effort to limit my time on Instagram — so seeing this number makes me both glad and sad. Glad because its significantly lower than my all-time high usage of 4+ hours a day. Sad because two and a half hours is still a lot of time that I could be committing towards my personal goals and objectives. Where I feel the real time racks up is when I treat Instagram as an activity the way I treat TV (thank you IGTV) — an Insta-binge if you will. It's where I find myself lost in the app for actual hours. I've just deleted the app from my phone during the week and that's helped cut down on overall screen time A LOT. " — Meghan, 29, 2 hours and 24 minutes/day
"I feel like I need to check on everything before I start my day, which inevitably results in unhealthy comparison. For my mental health, I recently deleted my main Instagram account. I still have my finsta as well as my cat’s Instagram account. I try to do what makes me happy, not what will make others happy — so deleting my account was freeing. I usually hang out on my phone when I shower and walk to school. I’m trying to stay off my phone during class, but I find it super challenging. On nights when I’m not working late, it’s extremely frustrating, but I feel compelled to spend time seeing how my peers are doing, and this leaves me frustrated with the comparisons I’ve been making." — Emma, 20, 4 hours/day