• Saturday, July 20, 2024
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TikTok announces new features for teens, families in push for market share

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Underpinned by its belief that digital experiences should bring joy and play a positive role in how people express themselves, discover ideas and connect, TikTok, the entertainment platform has announced new well-being features for teenagers, families and its broader community in the push for greater market share.

TikTok is improving its screen time controls with more custom options, by introducing new default settings for teen accounts, and expanding Family Pairing with more parental controls.

“In the coming weeks, every account belonging to a user under 18 years will automatically be set to a 60-minute daily screen time limit. When deciding on a feasible amount of screen time for teens, we consulted the current academic research and experts from the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital,” Cormac Keenan, TikTok head of Trust and Safety, stated, disclosing that the new features will help teens manage their time on TikTok better.

According to Keenan, if the 60-minute limit is reached, teenagers will be prompted to enter a passcode to continue watching, requiring them to make an active decision to extend that time. “While there’s no collectively-endorsed position on how much screen time is ‘too much’, or even the impact of screen time more broadly; we recognise that teens typically require extra support as they start to explore the online world independently,” he explains.

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Speaking further on the new initiative, Keenan stated further that research indicates when people are more aware of how they spend their time, they can be more intentional about the decisions they make. According to him, this is especially important, but typically more difficult, for younger audiences.

Keenan stated that TikTok is also prompting teenagers to set a daily screen time limit if they turn off the 60-minute default and spend more than 100 minutes on TikTok in a day. “In our first month of testing, this approach increased the use of our screen time management tools by 234 percent. And, we’ll send every teen account a weekly inbox notification with a recap of their screen time”.

He explained further that the features add to TikTok’s robust existing safety settings for teen accounts. “For instance, those aged 13-15 have their accounts set to private by default, enabling them to make informed choices about what they choose to share, when, and with whom. Direct messaging is only available to those ages 16 and older and to host a live, community members must be at least 18,” Keenan stated.

Among other things, the new features are geared towards helping families have conversations about digital well-being, and new screen time controls for everyone. The features provide for custom daily screen time limits; screen time dashboard; mute notifications, and new content controls.

“We want to provide families with controls to make decisions based on their individual needs, and we also recognise the importance of doing so with careful consideration for both parents and teens. Over the next few weeks, we’ll continue to engage with parenting, youth, and civil society organisations to design this feature,” Keenan concludes.