TikTok introduces a new restriction to protect under-18s 

TikTok has announced that it is setting a new limit for under-18s that will restrict their screen time. Once a young user hits the limit, which is set at 60 minutes, they will have to enter a passcode to continue their use for that day. 

Although users will be able to opt out of the new measure, campaigners hope that it will give parents more control over their kids’ social media use. 

TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2020, beating Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to the top spot. The app is particularly popular with young people, with the 10-19 age group accounting for 25% of active users. It’s estimated that kids spend an average of 75 minutes a day on the platform either watching or sharing videos.

The app, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has faced a lot of criticism recently. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the platform was accused of allowing misinformation to spread on its platform, with reports claiming it had become a breeding ground for fake news. 

In addition to this, it has also faced bans in the European Union, the US, and Canada in recent months after disclosing that employees in China may have access to the data of users in other countries, which could pose a safety risk for users. 

When will the restrictions be rolled out? 

According to TikTok, the changes will be introduced in the coming weeks and will help people “stay in control” of their social media use. TikTok says the limits are an extension of a prompt that was rolled out last year that helped “increase the use of our screen time tools by 234%”.

Currently, users have to be at least 13 to use the platform, but the new feature will mean anyone under 18 will receive a prompt after one hour, as well as a weekly notification with a recap of their screen time. 

Users can opt out of the restrictions by using a passcode. This means that they won’t be prompted after 60 minutes. However, they will still receive a notification from TikTok to set their own screen time controls. 

Cormac Keenan, head of trust and safety at TikTok, said “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.”

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