By Cormac Keenan, Head of Trust and Safety, TikTok
Today we're announcing new features for teens, families, and our broader community. We believe digital experiences should bring joy and play a positive role in how people express themselves, discover ideas, and connect. 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.
Changes to help teens manage their time on TikTok
In the coming weeks, every account belonging to a user below age 18 will automatically be set to a 60-minute daily screen time limit. 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. If the 60-minute limit is reached, teens will be prompted to enter a passcode in order to continue watching, requiring them to make an active decision to extend that time. For people in our under 13 experience, the daily screen time limit will also be set to 60 minutes, and a parent or guardian will need to set or enter an existing passcode to enable 30 minutes of additional watch time.
Research also shows that being more aware of how we spend our time can help us be more intentional about the decisions we make. 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. This builds on a prompt we rolled out last year to encourage teens to enable screen time management; our tests found this helped increase the use of our screen time tools by 234%. In addition, we'll send every teen account a weekly inbox notification with a recap of their screen time.
These features add to our robust existing safety settings for teen accounts. For instance, those aged 13-15 have their accounts set to private by default, enabling teens to make informed choices about what they choose to share, when, and with whom. Direct messaging is only available to those age 16 and older and to host a LIVE, community members must be at least 18.
Helping families have conversations about digital well-being
When teens need support, parents or caregivers are often the first people they can turn to, making them one of our most important partners. As we continue to innovate on how we empower families, we're adding three new features to Family Pairing:
- Custom daily screen time limits: Caregivers will be able to use Family Pairing to customize the daily screen time limit for their teen – including choosing different time limits depending on the day of the week – giving families more choices to match screen time to school schedules, holiday breaks, or family travel.
- Screen time dashboard: We're bringing our screen time dashboard to Family Pairing, which provides summaries of time on the app, the number of times TikTok was opened, and a breakdown of total time spent during the day and night. From our recent research, we know screen time is one of the topics parents most frequently discuss with their teens, and we want to support caregivers with relevant information to help them guide their teens.
- Mute notifications: Notifications help us stay connected, but there are times when it's important to be uninterrupted. We're introducing a new setting that enables parents to set a schedule to mute notifications for their teen. Accounts aged 13-15 already do not receive push notifications from 9pm and accounts aged 16-17 have push notifications disabled from 10pm.
Every teen is different, and so is every family. That's why we remain focused on reaching parents with the information they need about TikTok. We do this through partnerships with creators, industry experts, and advertising campaigns focused on safety features. In addition to in-app educational videos about Family Pairing featuring creators like @team2moms and @handsonfamily, we continue to reach parents and families through national and local TV and digital campaigns that share tips and conversation starters for parents to initiate proactive conversations with their teens about online safety. We'll also continue to surface Family Pairing information to some of our users in-app to help them understand the options that may be useful to them or someone they know. We hope these features will continue to help families establish an ongoing dialogue about safety and well-being in our digital world.
New screen time controls for everyone
We want our community to feel in control of their TikTok experience. In addition to bringing these new features to Family Pairing, everyone will soon be able to set their own customized screen time limits for each day of the week and set a schedule to mute notifications. In addition, we're rolling out a sleep reminder to help people more easily plan when they want to be offline at night. People can set a time, and when it's reached, a pop-up will remind them it's time to log off.
We'll continue to invest in improving our current features as well as introducing new tools to help people stay in control as they express their creativity, make meaningful connections, and enjoy culture-defining entertainment.
"Family Pairing is an opportunity for parents and teens to collaborate on developing healthy online habits. It's not parental control, it's parental involvement and an opportunity for parents and teens to learn from each other." - ConnectSafely President & CEO Larry Magid