Sunday, April 21, 2024

TikTok restricts ‘screen time’ for kids to 1 hour

TikTok has announced new features for teenagers and families, improving its screen time tool with more custom options, introducing new default settings for teen accounts, and expanding Family Pairing with more parental controls.

In the coming weeks, every account belonging to a user below age 18 will automatically be set to a 60-minute daily screen time limit, the company said.

While there’s no collectively-endorsed position on the ‘right’ amount of screen time or even the impact of screen time more broadly, TikTok said it consulted the current academic research and experts from the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital in choosing this limit.

If the 60-minute limit is reached, teens will be prompted to enter a passcode in order to continue watching, requiring them to make an active decision to extend that time.

TikTok said research also shows that being more aware of how users spend the time can help them be more intentional about the decisions they make. “So we’re also prompting teens to set a daily screen time limit if they opt out of the 60-minute default and spend more than 100 minutes on TikTok in a day,” it said.

The company added: “This builds on a prompt we rolled out last year to encourage teens to enable screen time management; our tests found this approach helped increase the use of our screen time tools by 234%.”

In addition, the company said it will send every teen account a weekly inbox notification with a recap of their screen time.

It said these features add to its existing safety settings for teen accounts. For instance, those aged 13-15 have their accounts set to private by default, enabling teens to make informed choices about what they choose to share, when, and with whom.

Direct messaging is only available to those age 16 and older and to host a LIVE, community members must be at least 18.

When teens need support, parents or caregivers are often the first people they can turn to, making them one of the company’s most important partners, TikTok said, adding that it aims to continue to innovate on how to empower families with three new features to Family Pairing:

  • Custom daily screen time limits: Caregivers will be able to use Family Pairing to customize the daily screen time limit for their teen – including choosing different time limits depending on the day of the week – giving families more choices to match screen time to school schedules, holiday breaks, or family travel.
  • Screen time dashboard: The screen time dashboard provides summaries of time on the app, the number of times TikTok was opened, and a breakdown of total time spent during the day and night. From our recent research, we know screen time is one of the topics parents most frequently discuss with their teens, and we want to support caregivers with relevant information to help them guide their teens.
  • Mute notifications: TikTok said it’s introducing a new setting that enables parents to set a schedule to mute notifications for their teen. Accounts aged 13-15 already do not receive push notifications from 9pm and accounts aged 16-17 have push notifications disabled from 10pm.

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