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TikTok has introduced major changes for users under the age of 18, including a one-hour daily screen time limit in an effort to curb excessive scrolling. The new restrictions come amid growing concerns that the app is turning young people into “boring beasts”. The move is part of an effort to rein in the way teenagers interact with the popular social media platform, which has become increasingly controversial in recent years. The announcement comes just two days after the White House ordered government agencies to remove TikTok from their devices within 30 days to prevent Chinese spying on the US.
TikTok’s head of trust and safety, Cormac Keenan, said that the app’s goal is to create positive digital experiences that bring joy and encourage self-expression, while also providing more parental controls. The new screen time tool will be automatically applied to every user under 18, who will need to enter a passcode to continue scrolling after an hour. In addition to the time limit, new default settings for teen accounts will also be introduced, and Family Pairing will be expanded to include more parental controls.
TikTok has announced it will be introducing new time limits on the app for users under the age of 18. Those aged 13 to 17 will now be limited to 90 minutes of screen time per day, while those under the age of 13 will be limited to 60 minutes. However, the latter group can receive an additional 30 minutes of watch time if a parent or guardian sets or enters a passcode. The app is also prompting teenagers to set daily screen time limits if they spend more than 100 minutes on TikTok in a day.
TikTok consulted academic research and experts from the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital when deciding on the new time restrictions. The app will also send teenage accounts a weekly recap of their screen time, and tests implementing this feature reportedly increased the use of TikTok’s screen time tools by 234%.
In addition to time limits, TikTok is also introducing new features to its Family Pairing service. Parents or guardians can link their TikTok account to a younger user’s account and custom daily screen time limits can be set depending on the family’s schedule, such as during school holidays.
TikTok is introducing new features to its Family Pairing option, including a screen time dashboard that shows the number of times the app was opened and the total time spent on it throughout the day and night. Parents can also set a schedule to mute notifications with a new setting, building on existing push notification restrictions for users aged 13 to 17. Research suggests that TikTok can contribute to shorter attention spans and increased ADHD diagnosis in children
Threat of a ban on federal ‘spying’
The US government has issued an order banning federal employees from downloading and using the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok on government devices, citing concerns that the app could allow the Chinese Communist Party access to sensitive user data. This ban follows similar measures taken by various government agencies in advance of a congressional ban on the app last December.
The parent company of TikTok, ByteDance, has denied the allegations, calling them “misinformation.” However, the US government remains wary of the potential security risks posed by the app and has taken steps to protect its digital infrastructure.
According to Chris DeRusha, the Federal Chief Information Security Officer for the Office of Management and Budget, this latest ban is part of the government’s ongoing efforts to safeguard the privacy and security of American citizens.
What do you think are the potential benefits and drawbacks of TikTok’s one-hour daily limit for teenagers’ screen time? Share your opinion in the comments below.