TikTok teens to have a one-hour time limit on by default

1 Mar 2023

Image: © Ascannio/Stock.adobe.com

Teenagers will have to enter a passcode to continue using the app once the time limit has been reached, in order to make them more aware of the time they’re spending on the platform.

TikTok is releasing new features to help teenagers and their parents manage the time spent using the app.

The new “well-being features” include default settings for teenager accounts and an expansion to the app’s family pairing service, which it first launched in 2020.

In the coming weeks, TikTok plans to have a 60-minute daily screen time limit on all accounts that belong to users under the age of 18. Once this time limit is reached, users will be prompted to enter a passcode in order to continue using the app.

TikTok said this means teens will have to make an “active decision” to extend their time on the app. The company’s head of trust and safety Cormac Keenan said being aware of how time is spent can help people be “more intentional” about the decisions they make.

The video-sharing platform also plans to prompt younger users to set their own time limit if they turn off the 60-minute limit and spend more than 100 minutes a day on the app.

“In our first month of testing, this approach increased the use of our screen time management tools by 234pc,” Keenan said. “We’ll send every teen account a weekly inbox notification with a recap of their screen time.

A recent report supported by TikTok also suggests that putting more agency in young users is beneficial for them.

The social media company said it consulted current research and experts from the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital to create the 60-minute limit.

“While there’s no collectively endorsed position on how much screen time is ‘too much’, or even the impact of screen time more broadly, we recognise that teens typically require extra support as they start to explore the online world independently,” Keenan said.

Accounts being used by teenagers aged 13 to 15 will also have their accounts set to private by default. The updates will also limit direct messaging to users who are 16 or older, while live videos will be limited to people over 18.

Family pairing updates

Meanwhile, TikTok’s family pairing service – which lets parents and teens customise their safety settings – is also getting an update.

The new features include custom time limits that parents or caregivers can set to limit the app’s use by teenage users. A dashboard will also be introduced to provide summaries on the number of times TikTok was opened and a breakdown of total time spent during the day and night.

Users can also set a schedule to mute notifications after a certain period to help limit night usage of the app.

Earlier this week, Canada and the US both moved forward with plans to ban TikTok from the devices of government staff amid security concerns.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic