TikTok to limit screen time for under-18 users to one hour a day

March 2, 2023

Tick-tock … Time could be running out for the teens of TikTok.

The New York Post reports that, on Wednesday, March 1, the juggernaut viral video platform announced major changes for under-18 users, with a one-hour daily screen time limit set to be introduced in the coming weeks in an effort to curb endless scrolling that some argue is turning youths into “boring beasts.”

The goal: Reining in the way teens interact with the increasingly popular—and controversial— app. The new restrictions come after the White House on Monday ordered government agencies to rid their devices of the Chinese-owned TikTok within 30 days in an effort to prevent China’s communist government from spying on the United States.

“We believe digital experiences should bring joy and play a positive role in how people express themselves, discover ideas, and connect,” said Cormac Keenan, TikTok’s head of Trust and Safety, in a statement. “We’re improving our screen time tool with more custom options, introducing new default settings for teen accounts, and expanding Family Pairing with more parental controls.”

The new 60-minute time limit will be automatically applied to every user under 18 years of age, who will be asked to enter a passcode to continue scrolling after an hour.

For users under 13, the limit also will be set to 60 minutes—but a parent or guardian will need to set or enter an existing passcode to enable 30 minutes of additional watch time.

Keenan said TikTok consulted current academic research and experts from the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital when deciding how long the time restriction should be.

“Research also shows that being more aware of how we spend our time can help us be more intentional about the decisions we make,” Keenan said. “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.”

According to Keenan, tests that implemented this feature “helped increase the use of our screen time tools by 234%.” In addition to the limit on screen time, the app will also send every teenage account a weekly recap of their screen time.

The video-sharing app will also introduce new features to Family Pairing. Parents or guardians will be able to link their TikTok account to a younger user’s account and custom daily screen time limits will be introduced, which allows families to increase or decrease screen time depending on their schedules (i.e. school holidays).

A screen time dashboard will also be introduced to Family Pairing, providing a breakdown of the number of times TikTok has been opened, and a breakdown of total time spent on the platform during the day and night.

Mute notifications will be introduced, allowing a new setting that enables parents to set a schedule to mute notifications. Accounts held by users aged 13 to 15 already do not receive push notifications after 9 p.m., and accounts aged 16 to 17 have push notifications disabled from 10 p.m.

Studies have shown the effect of TikTok on the brain, with researchers linking it to short attention spans and an increase in ADHD diagnosis in children

Research contact: @nypost