TikTok makes major change that could kick users out of app

Users will be sent weekly messages detailing how long they spend on the app

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 01 March 2023 14:47 GMT

TikTok will automatically stop young people from using its app for more than an hour each day.

The new restrictions are part of a wide set of features that are intended to improve the wellbeing of the teens who use its app.

Any account belonging to someone under 18 will now automatically be subject to a 60-minute daily screen time limit, TikTok said. If they want to switch that limit off, they will have to enter a passcode, which is intended to ensure that they are required to “make an active decision to extend that time”, TikTok said in an announcement.

If users opt to turn off that default limit, and then spend more than 100 minutes each day on the app, they will be encouraged to set a new screen time limit for themselves. TikTok says that testing has shown that prompt increased the use of its screen time features by 234 per cent.

Young people will also be sent a message, each week, detailing how much they have used the app over recent days.

The new feature comes alongside new “family pairing” features that mean that parents can also set those limits for their teens. They can set screen time limits on their behalf, with adjustments made foe each day of the week, and a dashboard that shows detail on how those young people have used the app, including times and the number of times the app was opened.

The new changes come amid increasing concern about the danger TikTok might be doing to the people who use it. The app is built to keep users scrolling through a practically limitless number of videos, and it uses other tricks to ensure that its users stay engaged with that feed.

TikTok suggested that it had not made the 60-minute limit a firm ruling in part because it believes that all families are different, and because there is “no collectively-endorsed position on how much screen time is ‘too much’, or even the impact of screen time more broadly”.

Some of the features that were introduced as part of the wellbeing tools will be rolled out to other users, whatever their age. People able to mute notifications according to a schedule, and set time limits for specific days of the week.

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