Amid mounting concerns (and lawsuits) about the impact of social media on children’s mental health, TikTok on Wednesday set a 60-minute time limit on screen time for users under 18, and announced several new pairings. Announced adding rental controls. However, these “restrictions” are actually more like suggestions. There are ways for young users to continue using your app after their usage time limit has passed.
The news comes amid a larger debate about the harms of social media to young people and a tremendous amount of scrutiny on TikTok itself over its ties to China. While it appears to be taking the lead over TikTok, it probably won’t be enough to allay the national security concerns many lawmakers have (or say they have) about TikTok. It may not be enough to allay concerns about the harm the media does to children.
Over the next few weeks, underage users will be subject to a 60-minute screen time limit by default. At that point the app will display a prompt to notify the user and give them the option to continue.
For users under the age of 13, a parent or guardian must enter a passcode every 30 minutes to give the child additional screen time. No parent code, no TikTok.
However, users between the ages of 13 and 17 can still use the app by entering their own passcode. You can also opt out of his default 60-minute screen time limit, but if he spends more than 100 minutes a day on TikTok, he’ll be forced to set his own limit. This can be bypassed in code. You’ll also see a weekly summary of your time spent on the app. TikTok believes these measures will make teens more aware of the time they spend on the app.
Finally, parents who have linked their TikTok account to their child’s account can see how much time their child spends in the app, how often the app is opened, set times to mute notifications, and custom Some additional controls and information are available, such as being able to set the time for different day limits.
The Tech Oversight Project, a big tech accountability group, was unimpressed with TikTok’s announcement, calling it “a phony ploy to make parents feel safe without actually making the product safe.”
“Companies like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok focused their business models on getting kids hooked on their platforms and spending more time looking at screens to sell ads,” said Deputy Director of Tech Oversight Project. Executive Director Kyle Morse said in a statement. “By design, technology platforms don’t care about the well-being of children and teens.”
TikTok has long been criticized for its addictive nature. Some users spend hours mindlessly scrolling through apps. It has implemented various screen time management tools over the years and now allows users to set their own time limits and set break and bedtime reminders. These new controls allow you to further customize these settings. TikTok says these controls will soon be available to adult users as well, but adults won’t get notifications for that time limit by default like kids do.
TikTok is one social media app that has introduced options for minor users. For example, Meta allows parents to limit the amount of time their child spends on her Instagram. There are also various options for parents on the devices their children use these apps on. However, like his 60 minute reminders for TikTok, these aren’t enabled by default.
This is all because lawmakers appear to be taking the laws regulating if and how children use social media seriously. In both his State of the Union addresses, President Biden said social media platforms are profiting from “experiments” on children and must be held accountable. We want to ban children under the age of 12 from using social media at all. On the less extreme side, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) launched a bipartisan bill called the Safe Kids Online Act to force social media platforms to control the use and control of children. I plan to resubmit the bill of Allow parents to set them.
TikTok especially faces the possibility of being banned in the United States. Lawmakers concerned about the China-based parent company have become increasingly vocal about the app, as they believe China can use and access it and have introduced legislation to ban it. Transmits US user data or pushes propaganda or misinformation to US users. TikTok is already banned not only on federal devices, but also on government-owned devices in most states. The company is currently negotiating a deal with the government to ease national security concerns and allow it to continue operating in the country, but the process has dragged on for years.
In the meantime, TikTok has taken the lead by controlling your kids’ screen time with default settings. That might score some points with lawmakers who want to ban it outright, but probably not.
This story was first published in the Recode newsletter. SIGN UP HERE Don’t miss the next one!