TikTok has announced new measures aimed at helping teenagers manage their time on the platform. Starting in the coming weeks, accounts belonging to users under 18 will automatically have a daily screen time limit of 60 minutes.
However, teens will still have the option to exceed the time limit by entering a prompted passcode, which requires them to actively decide to extend their usage time. The announcement was made by Cormac Keenan, head of trust and safety at TikTok, on Wednesday.
Keenan added that while there is no universally agreed-upon position regarding the appropriate amount of screen time or its overall impact, the company consulted academic research and experts from the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital to determine the screen time limit for teens. Keenan also cited research supported by TikTok.
Moreover, TikTok’s decision to implement this screen time limit for teenagers comes at a time of growing concerns about the amount of time young people spend on social media platforms. This move by the popular Chinese-owned app also coincides with increased scrutiny in Washington over security issues.
Monday, the White House gave federal agencies a deadline of 30 days to remove TikTok from all government-issued devices while House Republicans continue to advocate for a nationwide ban. However, TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter dismissed these bans as mere “political theater.”
At the same time, concerns about how much time young people spend on screens, particularly on platforms such as TikTok and other social media apps, are mounting among experts worldwide. Studies have suggested that excessive screen time can negatively impact both physical and mental health. A study by Common Sense Media, a non-profit research organization, indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth in screen time, with media use among tweens (defined as kids aged 8 to 12) and teens increasing by 17% from 2019 to 2021.
Apart from implementing the automatic screen time limit, Keenan also mentioned that TikTok would send a weekly summary of screen time to all teenage accounts.
Moreover, the platform is also launching several enhancements to its “Family Pairing” feature, which enables parents, guardians, and their children to tailor safety settings to their needs. These new features include the ability for caregivers to set daily screen time limits for their teenagers, with the option to schedule different time limits for specific days of the week. Additionally, caregivers can mute notifications during designated times of the day and access a screen time dashboard to monitor their teen’s app usage.