Even TikTok agrees that teens and tweens are spending way too much time on TikTok and now, surprisingly, the popular social media platform is doing something about it.
The company announced in a blog post on wednesday (opens in a new tab) a new effort to help young people manage their time on TikTok on some of the best smartphones, though it depends on members of the platform telling the truth about their age.
Soon, TikTok will set a 60-minute usage limit for all users under the age of 18. However, the notice will be more of a suggestion that the teen will just have to enter a passcode to extend her time. For those who do and break the 100-minute barrier (who doesn’t?), TikTok will soon encourage them to set their own screen time limit for the app.
The rules of use for children under 13 years of age will be stricter. Once they reach the 60-minute limit, a parent or guardian will need to enter a code to restore access. There is nothing in the announcement about how TikTok is verifying the age of its users.
TikTok is pairing these new boundaries with a collection of screen time management tools that it’s adding to its Family Pairing parental management feature. They include a screen time dashboard and the ability to mute notifications. The latter should help prevent TikTok’s phone notifications from luring teens to the platform.
The moves come just two days before the US celebrates National Day of Disconnection (opens in a new tab)an unofficial party of devices and social media where people of all ages are encouraged to put down devices and screens and relearn pre-digital skills like hobbies, screen-free bedtime, and face-to-face social interaction.
Whether or not you believe in tuning out, there’s no arguing with current screen time trends, especially among teens and tweens.
a growing problem
Screen time among tweens and teens has been growing for years and nearly skyrocketed during the pandemic. Common Sense Media Survey 2021 reported a 17% increase in media use between 2019 and 2021. A more recent study Use of TikTok at 80 minutes per day. That’s a lot of short videos.
Parents and perhaps some overstimulated teens may appreciate a screen time structure, but it’s also worth noting that TikTok’s motives may not be entirely altruistic. The company faces intense scrutiny from US government officials, many of whom are calling for a full ban on TikTok. However, the concern has nothing to do with too much screen time and everything to do with TikTok’s ties to the Chinese government.
TikTok is still owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance and many fear that the Chinese government will have unrestricted access to TikTok data and therefore all of our activities on the platform. However, TikTok has been moving all of its US data to California-based Oracle servers. The company claims that no one in the Chinese government has access to US TikTok data.
Whoever is looking at the data, there will soon be less to examine if TikTok’s screen time management efforts are successful.