TikTok sets screen time limits for teens

Canada bans TikTok from federal government devices.

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TikTok said Wednesday that it will introduce an automatic 60-minute screen time limit for all users under the age of 18.

When the 60-minute limit is reached, teens will be prompted to enter a passcode to continue watching videos on the social media app, which “requires an active choice” to keep scrolling, the company said.

Teens can turn off the feature if they want, but TikTok said the app asks teens to set a limit if they “spend more than 100 minutes in a day on TikTok.”

TikTok is taking steps to reduce screen time for its younger users as it stares increasing scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers over its and child safety on the platform. A study by the Pew Research Center last August found that 67% of American teens use TikTok, with 16% of all teens saying they use it “all the time.”

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is set to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee later this month as the US subsidiary of China-based ByteDance faces both a national security investigation and heightened scrutiny amid back-to-back controversies , including revelations that employees spied on journalists and accessed US users’ data.

The social media platform said it is working hard to increase parenting reach as part of ongoing efforts to “bring joy and play a positive role in how people express themselves,” according to a press statement.

“Every teenager is different, and so is every family. That’s why we remain focused on reaching parents with the information they need about TikTok,” the company’s head of trust and safety, Cormac Keenan, said in a statement.

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The company is also introducing an option to mute notifications on a scheduled basis, a feature the company says is already implemented to varying degrees for users aged 13 to 17.

TikTok’s features are mostly in-app implementations of existing features for iOS and Android users. Apple’s iOS allows users to set restrictions on app usage and schedule notification activities via Focus Mode and Screen Time feature. On Google’s Android operating system, users can control app activity through the Digital Wellbeing menu.

TikTok parent company ByteDance is facing an investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, also known as CFIUS, over national security concerns. The investigation has been ongoing for years since ByteDance acquired Musical.ly in 2017, but has accelerated in recent months in both scope and external scrutiny.