In many ways, we can argue that TikTok really jailbroke the social media system. It has continued to shorten our attention span and cripple our short-term memory. The way TikTok's algorithm works has changed the game, suffice to say. Competitors are now trying to replicate the model. Unfortunately, users haven't learned to properly set boundaries to our scrolling just yet.
That can't possibly be a good thing, especially for kids. Most parents are anxious about their sons and daughters spending way too much time on the app (apart from worrying about the kind of content their children actually watch), and for good reason: it fries the brain.
Well, TikTok is (allegedly) hears our concerns. Recently, it had announced that users under the age of 18 will soon have their accounts' daily scrolling time limited to just one hour in an attempt to protect younger audiences. The feature is set to roll out in a few weeks. This should allow users to be stricter with the minutes they spend on the app.
So what happens when the limit is reached? Well, the user will receive a message to enter a passcode. Yes, this also means that they can disable the feature themselves. The problem here is making sure our kids make the active decision to stop (or just have that sense of agency, really) with when it comes to those obscure random rabbit holes.
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In the past weeks, TikTok has faced scrutiny from the United States government, as well. Security concerns relating to China by way of its parent company Bytedance continue to plague the short-form video app. U.S. Congress has even reopened the discussions about potentially banning the app altogether. But the conclusion is far from over, considering how large TikTok is.
“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 recognize that teens typically require extra support as they start to explore the online world independently,” Cormac Keenan, TikTok’s head of trust and safety, wrote in a post. “In our first month of testing, this approach increased the use of our screen time management tools by 234 percent."
Parents can do it themselves, too, much like how they have direct intervention now with their kids' feeds. To do so, they simply have to turn on the Restricted Mode on their children's phone to prevent young teens from seeing explicit or dangerous content on their feeds.
They may also choose to add keywords and hashtags they want to filter. A passcode is in place to turn the mode on and off. This feature, however, is only available on mobile. TikTok follows apps like Instagram and Snapchat, who each have incorporated parental controls and safety features to address screen management.
Researchers have long suggested that scrolling through a stream of thousands of 15-to-30-second videos on a daily basis could have adverse effects on our long-term memory. Just when we thought we've learned to address our screen-time addiction on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat, it's only gotten worse.
These are steps in the right direction, at the very least.
This story originally appeared on Esquiremag.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Candymag.com editors.