TikTok screen time limit for teenagers, as government ban looms

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TikTok screen time limit for teenagers, as government ban looms


A one-hour daily TikTok screen time limit will be set by default for users below 18 years of age, says the company. The move coincides with the White House setting a 30-day deadline for federal employees to remove the app from government devices …

Background

TikTok has come under increasing fire in the US, on a number of fronts.

There are fears that it could be used by the Chinese government as a propaganda or disinformation tool, to interfere with American politics. Some have expressed concern about how much China could learn about US citizens through their video preferences.

More generally, there are worries about how much time teenagers spend using social media apps, and the impact that may have on their mental health – especially that of teen girls.

TikTok screen time limit

TikTok owner Bytedance has been hoping that greater transparency into its algorithm could address security concerns, while it attempts to tackle the latter with a new default screen time limit.

The company made the announcement today – whether or not the time can be extended depends on age.

In the coming weeks, every account belonging to a user below age 18 will automatically be set to a 60-minute daily screen time limit. 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.

If the 60-minute limit is reached, teens will be prompted to enter a passcode in order to continue watching, requiring them to make an active decision to extend that time. For people in our under 13 experience, the daily screen time limit will also be set to 60 minutes, and a parent or guardian will need to set or enter an existing passcode to enable 30 minutes of additional watch time.

Parents and other caregivers will also be able to control TikTok notifications.

We’re introducing a new setting that enables parents to set a schedule to mute notifications for their teen. Accounts aged 13-15 already do not receive push notifications from 9pm and accounts aged 16-17 have push notifications disabled from 10pm.

Government ban looms

We learned back in December of last year that TikTok was being banned from US government devices, but while federal employees were told that they must “immediately” uninstall the app, no actual deadline was set.

CNET reports that this has now changed, with a 30-day deadline coming into effect from February 27.

The White House set a deadline for government employees to delete TikTok from federal devices as national security concerns about the short-form video app continue to grow. Federal agencies will have 30 days to remove the social media app from phones and systems, and prohibit devices from accessing TikTok via the internet, according to a Feb. 27 memo from the Office of Management and Budget.

This means that the app must be removed no later than March 29.

The European Union has enacted a similar ban on the use of TikTok on official devices.

Photo: Solen Feyissa/Unsplash

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