TikTok has announced that it will be implementing a daily screen time limit of 60 minutes for users under the age of 18. If a user exceeds this limit, they will need to enter a passcode to continue using the app for that day. However, TikTok has stated that users will have the option to opt out of this feature, which is set to be rolled out in the coming weeks.
The popular video app, which is owned by a Chinese company, has introduced this new measure in order to help young people “stay in control” of their usage. TikTok already introduced a prompt last year to encourage teenagers to manage their screen time, which the company says resulted in a 234% increase in the use of its screen time tools.
TikTok users must be at least 13 years old, and those under 18 will receive a weekly notification with a summary of their screen time as part of this new feature. Users who exceed the 60-minute limit and choose to opt out of the restriction, but still use the app for more than 100 minutes a day, will receive a prompt from TikTok to set their own screen time controls.
Parents who use the Family Pairing option on the app will also be able to set screen time limits and access a dashboard that provides a breakdown of app usage. Cormac Keenan, head of trust and safety at TikTok, stated that the company worked with researchers and experts in the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital to develop these new limits.
While the screen time limit has been welcomed by some, critics argue that it is not enough to address the platform’s impact on young users. A recent study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that TikTok’s algorithm “bombards” teenagers with harmful content, and called on the company to clean up feeds of harmful content to create a safe environment for children.
TikTok, which boasts over one billion monthly active users, has faced controversy over its relationship with the Chinese government and the protection of user data. The Canadian government recently banned the app from government devices, following similar moves by the United States.