Wednesday, March 01, 2023
Web Desk

TikTok announces feature that will limit teens screen time

After first month of testing, TikTok reports screen-time reminders raised utilisation of its screen-time control tools by 234%

Web Desk
The image shows a person holding a smartphone.— Unsplash
The image shows a person holding a smartphone.— Unsplash

A number of brand-new features have been unveiled by TikTok with the goal of lowering screen time and enhancing the well-being of its younger users.

Every TikTok user under the age of 18 will soon automatically be subject to a daily screen time restriction of 60 minutes, reported The Verge. Teenagers who exceed this cap are required to input a passcode in order to continue watching. Users can completely turn off the feature, but if they do and use TikTok for more than 100 minutes each day, they'll be prompted to set a new cap.

After the first month of testing, TikTok reports that these reminders raised the utilisation of its screen time control tools by 234%. Teens will also receive a weekly inbox message that summarises their screen time, making it possible for younger users to be aware of how much time they spend using the app and forcing them to actively choose to exceed the advised screen time.

On determining how long the time restriction should be, TikTok claims it consulted specialists from the Digital Wellbeing Lab at Boston Children's Hospital and recent academic research.

“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,” said Cormac Keenan, Head of Trust and Safety at TikTok, in a statement.

Children under the age of 13 who use "TikTok for Younger Users" will also be subject to the 60-minute time limit. In this case, if the screen time limit is surpassed, a parent or guardian must set and enter an existing passcode to permit 30 minutes of additional watch time on the account.

Four new features are also being added to Family Pairing, TikTok's adjustable parental restrictions that allow a parent or guardian to attach their TikTok account to a younger user's account. Applying custom limitations enables constraints to be changed according to the day of the week (or more widely extended over school holidays).

TikTok's screen time dashboard, which displays how much time a child has spent using the app, how frequently it was opened, and a breakdown of how much time was spent during the day and night, is also accessible to family pairing users. Parents will soon be able to schedule the muting of app notifications on their children's accounts using a new "Mute Notifications" setting. Users between the ages of 13 and 15 already have push notifications muted automatically at 9 pm, and those between the ages of 16 and 17 have push notifications turned off at 10 PM.

Last but not least, TikTok claims to be working on new content filters that would let parents filter out videos that contain phrases or hashtags they don't want their kids to see. With "parents, youth, and civil society organisations," the business will design the feature during the ensuing weeks.

In addition to Family Pairing, TikTok announced that some of these settings will be broadly accessible to all accounts "soon," enabling any user to schedule muted notifications and create unique screen time limits for each day of the week. Users can choose a time to be reminded to close the app and go to bed by using the new sleep reminder feature.

The precise release date for the new features has not been specified by TikTok.