Amid growing concerns over app addiction, TikTok is rolling out more screen tools – TechCrunch
TikTok users regularly complain about wasted hours on the platform, thanks to the video app’s unparalleled ability to entertain, entertain and engage users with its advanced recommendation technology. Its addictive nature has been the subject of numerous psychological studies and concerns of parents, with TikTok becoming one of the most used applications by children. Instead of recalling its digital dopamine dispenser, TikTok is today rolling out a new set of Screen Time features designed to give users more control over their TikTok usage.
Among the new features are two new controls for monitoring and managing screen time usage, as well as a new digital wellbeing guide that’s being added to the app’s Safety Center.
The guide, titled “How can I reflect on my digital well-being with my family and friends? » is intended to help users “think more holistically” about how they spend time online, TikTok said.
The new Screen Time features, meanwhile, come on top of the Screen Time controls TikTok has already launched for families, which have been available globally for over two years and include a way for parents to set screen time limits for children. The features are also in addition to the TikTok daily screen time limits tool added in February 2020, which is available to all users in the existing Digital Wellbeing section of the app.
Instead, the new in-app tool arriving today helps users control the time they spend on TikTok. in one session by allowing them to schedule regular screen breaks.
The feature aims to solve app addiction issues that are not related to total consumption, but to lose track of how much time you spend on TikTok each time you open the app. In other words, it’s a tool to manage screen time per session.
With the new tool, users can ask the app to remind them to take a break after a certain time of their choosing.
By default, it suggests 10, 20, or 30 minute break reminders, though users can set reminders for a custom duration if they want to engage in longer or shorter sessions before receiving the notification. These default suggested times for session breaks are significantly reduced from the daily screen time limits recommended by the existing tool. The latter asks users to set a daily screen time limit of 40, 60, 90 or 120 minutes.
TikTok notes that the tool can also be put on hold or disabled at any time, which would allow users to use reminders as they see fit. For example, users might not want to limit screen time on a lazy weekend at home, but would want to limit their TikTok time during the work week when trying to get to bed early.
In connection with this addition, TikTok is rolling out a new Screen Time dashboard that will provide more insight into the time users spend on the app. It includes summaries of the user’s daily time spent on the app, the number of times they opened the app, and a breakdown of daytime and nighttime usage. Users can also choose to receive weekly notifications reminding them to check their dashboard.
As the new Screen Time tools are rolling out for global users of all ages, TikTok says it’s also introducing new Screen Time prompts for underage users between the ages of 13 and 17. Going forward, if a minor has been on the app for more than 100 minutes in a single day, TikTok will remind them of its new Screen Time Limits tool the next time they open the app.
The fact that such a feature should even exist suggests that many parents still haven’t bothered to set up TikTok’s existing parental controls, leaving the company to stand in for the digital parent.
Millennials and Gen X users — today’s parents — may have grown up with technology or used it for most of their adult lives, but a surprising number don’t. still do not use supervision of their children’s screen time and use of digital devices. A 2021 Kaspersky study found that only half of American parents use parental control apps and only 44% monitor children’s device usage. In other markets, adoption of parental controls may be even lower. A 2020/2021 Ofcom study, for example, suggested around six in ten UK parents were aware of digital parental controls, but only around a third actually used them.
The rollout of new Screen Time features follows a recent April 2022 investigation by The Wall Street Journal into TikTok’s impact on children’s brains. The report cites a widely publicized scientific study that examined how the app’s algorithm activates reward centers in the brain, including those associated with addiction. Although the study focused on students and young adults, not children, it found that around 5.9% of TikTok users may have “significantly problematic use”.
Young people find it even harder to manage their screen time use, the WSJ reported, because their brain’s prefrontal cortex — which targets impulse control and decision-making — isn’t fully developed until after they’re born. 25 years old.
Arguably, TikTok’s screen time tools, including those for underage children, are more robust than those of competing platforms like Instagram and YouTube due to the granularity of TikTok’s controls. And they’re way ahead of Snapchat, which has yet to launch its own parental controls. But given the now well-documented impacts of addictive social apps on health — especially on children’s brains — regulators are expected to step in soon to exert more control over the market, so there’s no It’s not up to app makers to choose what tools to offer and how they should work.