The video-sharing app TikTok has announced new parental controls, as well as screen time restrictions on accounts for users younger than 18.
The company said March 1 in a press release that minors will be limited to 60 minutes of screen time per day. To continue using the app, those under 18 will have to enter a passcode and make an “active decision” to stay on the app.
For accounts where the user is under 13, a parent or guardian will have to set or enter a passcode to allow an extra 30 minutes of screen time once the initial hour limit has been reached.
TikTok also said it will prompt teens to set their own daily screen time limits if they opt out of the default 60-minute limit and will also send weekly notifications that recap users’ screen time.
Social media apps like TikTok can offer entertainment and educational videos, but there have long been concerns about what other content children and teens are being exposed to.
In a report released last year, researchers suggested that vulnerable users were being exposed to harmful content that promotes eating disorders and self-harm.
The new restrictions come just days after the White House banned TikTok from all government devices, around concerns that the Chinese-owned app poses national security concerns.
Meanwhile, some lawmakers are pushing for President Joe Biden to ban the app entirely in the U.S.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a measure along party lines that grants the administration power to do so.
“Anyone with TikTok downloaded on their device has given the CCP (Communist Party of China) a backdoor to all their personal information,” said Representative Michael McCaul, the Republican chair of the committee. “It’s a spy balloon into their phone.”
ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, has repeatedly denied accusations that the app is associated with Beijing’s surveillance or propaganda initiatives.
Democrats opposing the bill say its rushed and requires more input from experts.
TikTok is currently used by more than 100 million Americans.
By Gage Jackson, Scripps News.