TikTok, the popular social media app known for its short-form videos, has introduced screen time controls to address concerns about teenage users’ excessive screen time and its potential impact on mental health. The new default setting limits users aged under 18 to one hour per day.
TikTok’s new screen time controls will automatically limit the daily usage of accounts owned by users under 18 to 60 minutes. After reaching the time limit, a passcode must be entered to continue viewing, and the teenager must actively decide whether to extend that time. Children under 13 already have a daily screen time limit of 60 minutes. Parents can set a passcode or enter an existing passcode for an additional 30 minutes of viewing time if needed.
The company is also introducing a new parental control feature, “Family Pairing,” which allows parents to monitor their children’s TikTok activities. Parents can set their screen time limits and see detailed dashboard stats about their child’s app usage, such as how often they open apps and when they use them most. Parents can also set when their children receive notifications and filter out topics they don’t want to appear in the ‘For You’ feed.
The decision to introduce screen time controls reflects growing concerns about the potential negative effects of social media on young people’s mental health, as well as the need for companies to take responsibility for the impact of their products on users. While there is no collectively accepted view of the “right” amount of screen time or how it affects us, TikTok consulted with experts from Boston Children’s Hospital’s Digital Wellness Lab to determine the 60-minute time limit.
TikTok’s move to introduce screen time controls and parental controls may be seen as a positive step towards addressing concerns about the impact of social media on young people’s mental health. However, it remains to be seen whether these measures will effectively reduce excessive screen time among teenagers and improve their well-being.