Every account controlled by a user under 18 will soon have a default screen time limit of 60 minutes daily, TikTok announced on Wednesday.
The modifications come at a time when many governments are increasingly more concerned about the app’s security and its capacity to modify its algorithm to push particular posts.
The upgrade also reflects the limitations on gaming for children in China, where ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, is headquartered.
To combat internet addiction, Chinese officials introduced new regulations in 2021 that limited children’s access to online gaming to one hour per day and only on Fridays, weekends, and public holidays.
Families in the United States have had difficulty controlling how much time their kids spend on the Chinese-owned video-sharing app. According to the Pew Research Center, almost two-thirds of American teenagers use TikTok.
In a blog post published on Wednesday, Cormac Keenan, head of trust and safety at TikTok, said that once the allotted 60 minutes have passed, minors would be asked to enter a password and decide whether or not to continue watching.
After the initial 60-minute viewing time restriction is reached for accounts where the user is under 13, a parent or guardian must set or enter an existing passcode to grant an additional 30 minutes of viewing time.
TikTok developed the 60-minute limit after talking to university researchers and specialists from the Digital Wellbeing Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Concerns about what adolescents are exposed to on social media and the possible harm it can cause have existed for a long time.
According to a report published before the end of last year, TikTok’s algorithms encourage vulnerable teenagers to watch videos about self-harm and eating problems.
Similar allegations have also been made about Instagram, owned by Facebook’s parent company Meta.
To help users get the most out of their time on a site, social media algorithms detect subjects and information they are interested in and then send them more.
According to social media critics, the same algorithms that highlight content about a specific sports team, hobby, or dance fad can also lead users to hazardous content.
In addition, TikTok announced on Wednesday that if kids choose not to use the 60-minute default, they will be prompted to set a daily screen time limit.
Teen accounts will receive weekly email notifications from the corporation with a summary of their screen time.
Some of TikTok’s current security measures for teen accounts include setting accounts between the ages of 13 and 15 to private by default and limiting direct messaging access to those accounts where the user is 16 or older.
All users of TikTok will now be able to set customized screen time limits for each day of the week and a timetable for when notifications will be muted, among other announced modifications.
The business is also introducing a sleep reminder to assist consumers in scheduling their nighttime offline time.
Users can specify a time for the sleep feature; when that time comes, a pop-up will notify them that it’s time to log off.
Notwithstanding the app’s excessive use by some kids, there is rising worry about it globally.
TikTok cannot be installed on equipment used for official purposes, according to the EU Council, European Commission, and European Parliament.
This comes after similar measures were enacted by the U.S. Congress, the federal government, and more than half of the country’s states. It is likewise prohibited on government equipment in Canada.
Republicans in the House support legislation enabling President Joe Biden to impose a nationwide ban on the app, but some civil rights groups are opposed, claiming that such a step would be unconstitutional.
On a party-line vote on Wednesday, the legislation was approved by the Republican-controlled House Foreign Affairs Committee. A vote on the measure is still required on the floor of the House and Senate.