TIKTOK’S TIME LIMIT
TikTok is one of the most addictive social sites around with users consuming hours of short-form video content on a daily basis. TikTok founds itself on the premise that its users don’t just scroll through its content while doing other everyday tasks – they become immersed in the different TikTok communities and content lead algorithms. Unlike other social sites, TikTok doesn’t lend itself to simultaneous screen time meaning that most people won’t watch something on Netflix and engage with TikTok content, unlike social networks such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. It’s no wonder that the app and its users need to consider the amount of time dedicated to consuming its content on a daily, especially due to the fact that their consumer base is comprised of users from a variety of age groups.
With that in mind, the Chinese-owned app is looking to set daily time limits for users under the age of 18. The idea is to set a sixty minute time limit for screen time for users who fall below that age limit. The measure which is to be imminently released will include an opt-out though, therefore giving users some autonomy in their consumption. The app has a minimum age limit of 13 years old, and will be part of the user base that receive weekly screen-time reports, much like the one that Apple iPhone users receive, therefore painting a very real picture of the short-form video consumption.
As Imran Ahmed, chief executive of the Center for Countering Digital Hate notes “TikTok has won the race for the hearts and minds of 14 to 24-year-olds in the United States and the United Kingdom. It is the crack cocaine of algorithms. It is the most addictive; it is the most dangerous and the one that needs to be dealt with most urgently.” Users who fall within the age-restricted limit will be required to enter a passcode in order to keep accessing content on the app. Parents of children and teenagers who access the app via the “Family Pairing” option will also have access to their kids’ app usage via a dashboard. They will also have the ability to input a code to continue their child’s access to the app post the sixty minute marker, or to restrict it for the day by not doing so.
Cormac Keenan, who is the head of trust and safety at TikTok, has acknowledged that “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.”