60-minute daily screen time set by TikTok for its users under 18 years

TikTok imposes a 60-minute daily screen time limit for users under 18 years of age. If adolescents exceed the new limit, they will be required to enter a passcode in order to continue using the service that day.

According to TikTok, users will be able to opt out of the new measure in the coming weeks. The video app, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, announced the addition of the feature to help users "maintain control" of their usage.

TikTok announced the new limit after introducing a prompt to encourage teens to maintain their screen time last year. This increased the use of our screen time tools by 234%, according to the report. TikTok users should be 13 years old. As a part of the latest TikTok feature, anyone who is under 18 will receive a weekly notification with a summary of their screen time.

As the changes take effect, affected users will receive their new time limit passcode on an app screen. TikTok will prompt users who opt out of the new 60-minute limit but continue to use the app for 100 minutes per day to set their own screen time limits. The parents of the children that are using the Family Pairing feature of the app will be able to set screen time limits and utilise a dashboard that provides an app usage summary.

According to Cormac Keenan, head of trust and safety at TikTok, the company collaborated with researchers to establish the new restrictions. He explained that although there is no correct amount of screen time or the effects of screen time in general, they consulted academic research and experts from the Digital Wellness Lab at the Boston Children’s Hospital so they could determine this limit. 

Critics of the video app applauded the screen time limit. However, they described it as just the beginning in terms of TikTok's response to the platform's exposure of young users.

Recently, Imran Ahmed, chief executive of the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, published research showing how TikTok's algorithm spams teenagers with harmful content. He stated that the race for minds and hearts of 14 to 24 year-olds in the United Kingdom and United States has been won by TikTok.

"It is the crack cocaine of algorithmic programming. It is the most addictive, the most dangerous, and the one that requires immediate attention."

Mr. Ahmed told sources that research conducted by his centre at the end of 2017 revealed that a 13-year-old girl's TikTok feed contained eating disorder and self-harm content within minutes of opening an account. In order to create a "safe environment for children," he urged the platform to reduce screen time and "clean up" harmful content feeds. It comes amid renewed controversy surrounding TikTok's relationship with the Chinese government and the protection of user data.

This week, the Canadian government joined the United States in banning the application from government-owned devices. TikTok announced in September 2021 that it had surpassed one billion active monthly users, making it one of the largest social networks in the world.

It does not publish a demographic breakdown of its users, but social media marketers and advertisers view it as a crucial platform for reaching individuals under the age of 34.