Tick-tock — time could be running out for the teens of TikTok.
The juggernaut viral video platform announced major changes for under-18 users on Wednesday, with a one-hour daily screen time limit set to be introduced in the coming weeks in an effort to curb endless scrolling that some argue is turning youths into “boring beasts.”
The goal: Revolutionizing the way teens interact with the increasingly popular — and controversial — app.
“We believe digital experiences should bring joy and play a positive role in how people express themselves, discover ideas, and connect,” said Cormac Keenan, TikTok’s Head of Trust and Safety, in a statement. “We’re improving our screen time tool with more custom options, introducing new default settings for teen accounts, and expanding Family Pairing with more parental controls.”
The new 60-minute time limit will be automatically applied to every user under 18 years of age, who will be asked to enter a passcode to continue scrolling after an hour.
For users under 13, the limit will also be set to 60 minutes — but a parent or guardian will need to set or enter an existing passcode to enable 30 minutes of additional watch time.
Keenan said TikTok consulted current academic research and experts from the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital when deciding how long the time restriction should be.
“Research also shows that being more aware of how we spend our time can help us be more intentional about the decisions we make,” Keenan said. “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.”
According to Keenan, tests that implemented this feature helped increase the use of our screen time tools by 234%. In addition to the a limit on screen time, the app will also send every teenage account a weekly recap of their screen time.
The video-sharing app will also introduce new features to Family Pairing. Parent or guardians will be able to link their TikTok account to a younger user’s account, custom daily screen time limits will be introduced, which allows families to increase or decrease screen time depending on their schedules (i.e. school holidays).
A screen time dashboard will also be introduced to Family Pairing, providing a breakdown of the number of times TikTok was opened, and a breakdown of total time spent during the day and night
Mute notifications will be introduced, allowing a new setting that enables parents to set a schedule to mute notifications. Accounts held by users aged 13 to 15 already do not receive push notifications from 9 p.m. and accounts aged 16 to 17 have push notifications disabled from 10 p.m.
Studies have shown the effect of TikTok on the brain, with it hypothesized it linked to short attention spans and an increase in ADHD diagnosis in children.
The app joins fellow social media giants Instagram and Snapchat, who rolled out features in recent years that include parental controls and features to remind users to take a break from scrolling.
TikTok’s new modifications come amid a rash of potentially deadly “challenges” circulating the internet. In February, more than 15 students in Mexico have been forced to undergo treatment after overdosing on drugs as part of a dangerous online “tranquilizer challenge.”
In January, a 12-year-old girl in Argentina died after attempting the deadly TikTok “choking challenge,” in which partakers attempt to asphyxiate themselves until they pass out.
In the US, TikTok is facing wrongful death lawsuits after two California girls fatally hanged themselves after watching “blackout challenge” videos on the platform.
“TikTok has invested billions of dollars to intentionally design and develop its product to encourage, enable and push content to teens and children that defendant knows to be problematic and highly detrimental to its minor users’ mental health,” the lawsuit read.
TikTok did not respond to The Posts repeated request for comment from about recent fatalities. In the past, the streaming platform has denied responsibility for the ongoing issue, saying “choking game” injuries from young people long predate the blackout challenge.
Meanwhile, TikTok users are encouraged to flag anybody engaged in any dangerous challenge by clicking the symbol that says “Report.”