TikTok is unveiling new features designed to protect teens as the social media app is under fire from all sides.
TikTok is facing increased pressure from jurisdictions around the world over its ties to Beijing and its handling of user data, especially that of children. The company has been accused of abusing child privacy on multiple occasions, and multiple states have launched investigations into the platform’s effect on children.
The company is now rolling out measures to better protect children, including limits on how much teenagers can use the app per day:
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. While there’s no collectively-endorsed position on the ‘right’ amount of screen time or even the impact of screen time more broadly, we 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. For people in our under 13 experience, the daily screen time limit will also be set to 60 minutes, and a parent or guardian will need to set or enter an existing passcode to enable 30 minutes of additional watch time.
Teens will be able to opt out of the 60-minute limit, but TikTok will prompt them to set some limits:
Research also shows that being more aware of how we spend our time can help us be more intentional about the decisions we 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. This builds on a prompt we rolled out last year to encourage teens to enable screen time management; our tests found this helped increase the use of our screen time tools by 234%. In addition, we’ll send every teen account a weekly inbox notification with a recap of their screen time.
The company is also rolling out a number of features to help parents have greater input on how their children use TikTok.
Ultimately, it’s unclear if these measures will save the platform. It has already been banned from government-owned devices in the EU, Canada, and the US, and some lawmakers are putting forth bills to ban it entirely.