TikTok has announced a set of new features intended to reduce screen time and improve the well-being of its young users.
In the coming weeks, a daily screen time limit of 60 minutes will automatically apply to every TikTok user under the age of 18. Teens who hit this limit will be asked to enter a passcode to continue viewing. They can disable the feature entirely, but if they do so and spend more than 100 minutes on TikTok in a day, they will be asked to set a new limit.
TikTok claims that these prompts increased the use of screen time management tools by 234 percent in the first month of testing the feature. Teens will also be sent a weekly inbox notification recapping their screen time, allowing young users to know how much time they’re spending on the app and if they should make adjustments. proactive decision to extend the recommended screen time.
The changes seem designed to make users more aware of their screen time
TikTok said it consulted current academic research and experts from the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital when deciding how long the ban would last.
“While there is no collectively endorsed position on how much screen time is ‘too much’, or even the impact of screen time more broadly, we know that teenagers often need more support as they begin to explore the online world independently,” said Cormac Keenan, TikTok’s Head of Trust and Safety, in a statement.
The 60 minute time limit also applies to children under the age of 13 using the “TikTok for Younger Users” limited app experience. In this instance, a parent or guardian must set or enter an existing passcode to enable 30 minutes of additional watch time on the account when the screen time limit is reached.
Four new features have also been added to Family Pairing, TikTok’s customizable parental controls that allow a parent or guardian to link their TikTok account to a younger user’s account. Customs limits may apply, allowing restrictions to change based on what day of the week it is (or even more extended to school holidays).
Family Pairing will also provide access to TikTok’s screen time dashboard that summarizes how much time a child spends on the app, how often it’s opened, and a breakdown detailing how much time is spent during the day and night A new “Mute Notifications” setting will soon allow parents to set a schedule to mute app notifications on their children’s accounts. Push notifications are automatically muted from 9PM for users between 13 and 15 years old, while 16-17 year olds have push notifications disabled from 10PM.
Finally, TikTok says it is developing new content controls that will allow caregivers to filter out videos with words or hashtags they don’t want their kids to see. The company is working with “parenting, youth, and civil society organizations” in the coming weeks to design the feature.
Outside of Family Matching, TikTok said some of these settings will be available to all accounts “soon,” allowing any user to schedule mute notifications and set the screen time limits for each day of the week. Also introduced is a sleep reminder that allows users to set a time to be reminded to close the app and go to sleep.
TikTok did not say when exactly the new features announced today will be rolled out to users. We’ve reached out to TikTok to ask for a release timeline, and will update this story when we hear back.