TikTok just announced automatic 60-minute daily screen time limits for all users under 18 years old.
Users have to be at least 13 years old to make their TikTok account, and if a teen exceeds the new 60-minute limit, they’ll be asked to enter a passcode in order to continue watching. For users who are under 13 and are experiencing TikTok for Younger Users, parents will have to set or enter a passcode to enable just 30 more minutes of watch time. If it’s anything like the time limits we set on apps through our phones, I suspect most users will simply enter the passcode and continue on with their day.
“Research also shows that being more aware of how we spend our time can help us be more intentional about the decisions we make,” Cormac Keenan, TikTok’s head of trust and safety, said in a statement. “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.”
The social media platform also announced other safeguards for teen users like sending every teen account a weekly recap of their screen time, and prompting teen users who spend more than 100 minutes on the app to set a daily limit.
This comes as social media experts and youth activists continue to debate the effect social media has on the mental health of young people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that after a stable seven years, the rate of suicide among people 10 to 24 years old increased by 56 percent from 2007 to 2017, making suicide the second leading cause of death in the age group following accidents. It’s not possible to know exactly what the cause of the crisis is, but some experts attribute part of the rise to social media; according to the Pew Research Center, nearly twice as many teens used the internet “almost constantly” in 2018 than they did in 2014. At the same time, research has shown that limiting screen time has the ability to make young people feel a bit better about themselves.
It’s unclear how big of an impact the time limits will make, but one thing is for certain: It’s better than the old videos of creators reminding users to take a break.