TikTok releases screen time limit option for accounts under age 18 – USA TODAY

TikTok is rolling out a new screen time limit for users under 18.
On Wednesday, the social media platform announced “changes to help teens manage their time on TikTok.” Every account belonging to TikTok users under 18 years old will soon automatically set to a 60-minute daily screen limit, the company said.
The default time limit for eligible accounts is expected to arrive in the coming weeks.
There will still be an option for teen TikTokers to continue using the app beyond the 60-minute limit – but they will have to enter a prompted passcode, “requiring them to make an active decision to extend that time,” Cormac Keenan, head of trust and safety at TikTok, wrote in Wednesday’s announcement.
“While there’s no collectively-endorsed position on the ‘right’ amount of screen time or even the impact of screen time more broadly, we consulted the current academic research and experts from the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital in choosing this limit,” Keenan wrote, while also citing research supported by TikTok.
In addition to mounting concerns surrounding the time teens spend on social media overall, TikTok’s move arrives as the popular Chinese-owned app faces increased scrutiny in Washington over security concerns.
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On Monday, the White House announced that federal agencies have 30 days to remove TikTok from all government-issued devices, and House Republicans are pushing for a nationwide ban. TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter called such bans of the social media app “little more than political theater.”
TikTok’s screen limit changes come as experts around the world stress concerns over the rising time that young people spend on screens, particularly on platforms like TikTok and other social media apps, with studies pointing to impacts on both physical and mental health.
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A study from Common Sense media, a nonprofit research organization, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth in screen time – with media use among tweens (defined in the study as kids age 8 to 12) and teens rising 17% from 2019 to 2021.
In 2021, tweens used an average of five hours and 33 minutes of screen media each day and teens had an average of eight hours and 39 minutes, the study said.
In a statement Wednesday, Common Sense Media founder and CEO James P. Steyer said TikTok’s “new features, particularly the screen time limits, are definitely a positive step to create a safer space for teens and families, but TikTok also needs to go further.”
“TikTok continues to capture users’ personal data and often nudges teens toward harmful content that can expose them to drugs, eating disorders, violence and more,” Steyer continued. “The nation’s youth mental health crisis is rampant, and all social media companies need to make teens’ well-being a priority, not merely an afterthought.”
In addition to the default screen time limit, Keenan said that TikTok will send every teen account a weekly recap of their screen time.
TikTok is also introducing several new features to “Family Pairing,” which allows parents, caregivers and their children to customize safety settings.
Among the new features, caregivers will be able to set daily screen time limits for their teens – including scheduling different time limits for certain days of the week – mute notifications for certain times of the day and use a screen time dashboard to see how much their teens are using the app.
Experts note that the needs of each family and individual are different. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends creating a family media plan to help navigate screen habits and customize priorities. 
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Beyond families and teen users, TikTok said screen time controls will be available to everyone.
“Everyone will soon be able to set their own customized screen time limits for each day of the week and set a schedule to mute notifications,” Keenan wrote. “In addition, we’re rolling out a sleep reminder to help people more easily plan when they want to be offline at night. People can set a time, and when it’s reached, a pop-up will remind them it’s time to log off.”


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