BREAKING NEWS: TikTok will LIMIT screen time for users under-18 to 60 minutes a day – and they will be prompted to enter a passcode to continue watching after the limit is reached
Social media giant TikTok announced Wednesday that screen time for users under 18 will be limited to just 60 minutes a day.
The default setting will require a passcode to continue scrolling through the app once the time limit is hit, but teens can opt out of the feature if they want.
And profiles owned by users aged 13 to 15 will also be set to private automatically.
The China-based company is also set to give parents and guardians more control, allowing them to mute notifications in their children’s app during specific times of the day.
TikTok did not confirm an exact date for the new features to be rolled out, but confirmed it would be ‘in the coming weeks.’
TikTok is rolling out a default setting that will limit screen time of minors to 60 minutes each day
New settings will also allow parents mute notifications from the app for their teens, with users aged 13 to 15 not receiving any from 9pm and those aged 16 to 17 from 10pm
TikTok has been surrounded with controversy due to many US states, lawmakers and government agencies banning the app over claims ‘it harvests swaths of sensitive data.’
However, the app is very popular among teens – a study from the Pew Research Center last August found 67 percent of American teenagers used TikTok, and 16 percent of all teens said they are ‘constantly’ on the app.
And these figures may have been the motive for Wednesday’s announcement.
Along with limited screen time, direct messaging will only be available to those 16 and older, and users will now have to be at least 18 to host a live video.
A screen time dashboard is also being introduced, which gives a breakdown of the total time spent on TikTok during the night and day.
Parents and guardians can customize their children’s daily screen time limit through TikTok’s Family Pairing, which rolled out in 2020.
This feature enables them to give different time limits depending on the day of the week, allowing families to take schedules and vacations into consideration.
However, now adults can mute notifications in the app for their teens.
Users aged 13 to 15 will not receive any from 9 pm and those aged 16 to 17 from 10 pm.
Cormac Keenan, Head of Trust and Safety at TikTok, said: ‘Today we’re announcing new features for teens, families, and our broader community.
‘We believe digital experiences should bring joy and play a positive role in how people express themselves, discover ideas, and connect.
‘We’re improving our screen time tool with more custom options, introducing new default settings for teen accounts, and expanding Family Pairing with more parental controls.’
The move to limit time screen for minors comes as TikTok has been under fire for ‘failing to protect children from harm,’ according to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation
They are also rolling out a sleep reminder to help schedule when users want to be offline at night, with a notification popping up to remind them it is time to log off
TikTok executives consulted the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital in choosing the limit.
They are also prompting teens to set their own daily screen time limit if they opt out of the 60-minute default and spend more than 100 minutes on the app each day.
In a statement, they added that they would send each teen account a weekly inbox notification with a recap of their screen time.
As well as rolling out the new features in the Family Pairing, the app will also be allowing everyone who uses the app to set their own customized time limits for each day.
Tik Tok is also rolling out a sleep reminder to help schedule when users want to be offline at night, with a notification popping up to remind them it is time to log off.
The move to limit time screen for minors comes as TikTok has been under fire for ‘failing to protect children from harm,’ according to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
TikTok has not confirmed when the features will launch, but stated ‘in the coming weeks’
The group released a statement in April 2022, stating that the app is a ‘magnet for sexual predators.’
‘TikTok becoming known as a ‘hunting ground’ for predators has not stopped its growth,’ according to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
‘The platform has given predators easy access to groom, abuse, and traffic children.’
‘Exploiters use TikTok to view minor users, comment on videos, and message children where they are often requesting or sending sexually explicit videos or pictures.’
Other concerns have been raised by parents who worry the app exposes children to content that would otherwise not be allowed in their homes.
This includes popular music with swearing and sexual lyrics, which are inappropriate for those under 18.