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01st Mar 2023

TikTok announces screentime limit for users

Charlie Herbert

TikTok screentime limit

The screentime limit will be rolled out in the ‘coming weeks’

TikTok has announced it will automatically set a screentime limit on the accounts of all users under the age of 18, as part of a string of new safeguarding features for younger users.

The video sharing app revealed on Wednesday that “every account belonging to a user below age 18 will automatically be set to a 60-minute daily screen time limit.”

Once users reach the hour-long limit, they will be prompted to input a passcode in order to continue using the app, this requiring them to “make an active decision to extend that time.”

Users are able to opt-out of the screentime limit but will be prompted to set a daily limit if they spend more than 100 minutes a day on the app, TikTok said.

The new feature will be rolled out “in the coming weeks.”

TikTok’s Head of Trust and Safety, Cormac Keenan, said that, whilst there is no “collectively-endorsed position on the ‘right’ amount of screen time”, the company had consulted the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital in choosing this limit.

For users under the age of 13, a parent or guardian will have to set up and enter a passcode to unlock an additional half hour of watch time.

Along with the screentime limit feature, TikTok also announced ways caregivers can customize daily time limits, sleep reminders and when notifications can be muted.

The policies come amid growing scrutiny over the app’s – and other social media platforms’ – impact on children and teenagers.

The likes of TikTok, Facebook and Instagram are being urged to do more to safeguard children using their apps.

At the same time, TikTok is coming under growing pressure from Western governments, in particular the US, for its ties with China.

There are concerns the app, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, could be used to spy on users. In the past, TikTok has faced allegations of harvesting users’ data and passing this on to Beijing.

Earlier this week, federal employees in US government agencies were ordered to remove TikTok from their phones. The order followed similar moves by the EU and Canada.

China has responded by accusing the US of overreacting and urged the US to “respect the principles of market economy and fair competition, stop suppressing the companies and provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies.”

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