TikTok claims it's limiting screen time for users under 18, teenagers say it isn't

locations. TikTok is in the news because it is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance and there are concerns that it could be used to give Beijing access to data about American users, such as their locations.

TikTok claims it's limiting screen time for users under 18, teenagers say it isn't

Ruby McMahon, along with her high school classmates decided to "TikTok sober" at the end of 2021. McMahon had gotten hooked on


During the COVID-19 pandemic, the app was used five hours per day. McMahon (17 years old) from East Lyme High School, Connecticut, said that she used the app for a long time to complete one assignment, then would reward herself with a TikTok, but that TikTok would soon turn into 30, and that McMahon has never returned to it since making the pact in which she partnered with friends. She added that it had affected her mental health. "I had trouble sleeping because I was constantly watching so many TikToks at nights, but I couldn’t sleep without my TikToks."

TikTok is owned by the Chinese company


Washington is worried that the company could give Beijing access data on American users such as their exact location and browsing history. TikTok's CEO,

Shou Chew

He is likely to be asked many questions by Congress about Thursday's testimony before Congress.

However, Chew will likely be under scrutiny by lawmakers over the app's impact on young people's well-being. Two-thirds of American teens use it. Child technology and health experts claim that TikTok encourages addictive content, recomends dangerous challenges and recommends harmful or toxic videos. TikTok claims it has 150 million U.S. customers. Sensor Tower, an intelligence company, estimates that users spend on average 93 minutes per day on the app. The company has announced a new 60 minute "daily screen limit" for all accounts belonging to users under 18. In prepared remarks, Chew celebrated the new restriction Tuesday before his congressional testimony. The limit was one of many steps that Chew cited to ensure teens under 18 have an enjoyable and safe experience using the app. TikTok, which has promoted its privacy and safety tools in places like Politico's Playbook newsletter and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, made the announcement prior to the hearing.

Many teens, educators, and youth experts expressed doubts about the effort and its framing. The new limits will allow users aged 13-17 to use the app to simply enter their pass code to continue watching videos after the 60-minute mark. This limit has not been made public. Users who claim to be 12 years old or younger can have their parents control of their pass code, and they can add 30 minutes to the watch time at 60 minutes. Joe Clement, a Fairfax County high school teacher, wrote a book called Screen Schooled in 2017. It was about technology overuse in schools. His students were adamant that they would follow the prompts when he spoke to them about it. Daria, a New York City 13-year-old, stated that TikTok has provided her videos asking her to go for a walk after she had been on TikTok for long periods of time. She said that she watches the videos occasionally because they are funny, but I believe there are better ways TikTok could help limit time usage. For example, if videos became more boring after an hour, they might.

Brian Parker is a Portland-based software engineer.


His 14-year old daughter has been given three hours of TikTok screen-time every day. (


Google and Apple offer tools that allow parents to limit their screen time. He asked her if she had come across any prompts of 60 minutes. She said that she was pretending to be 21 and that she wouldn't get those prompts. This was new to him.

Parker stated that Parker believes that this is a common occurrence for all of these children. They have learned through trial-and-error that they don’t want to be their real age, as there will be limitations. TikTok's head for family safety and developmental, Tracy Elizabeth, stated that teenagers can still use the app if they enter a pass code. However, research has shown that they could be distracted by other things if they pause to do so. She said that the pause is where teens need to stop and think about their actions and decide if they want to continue using the app. TikTok does not yet have data about how prompts affect teens' use of the app.

TikTok collaborated with the Digital Wellness Lab


Children's Hospital is available for research and advice in choosing the prompts. Funders of the lab include a variety of media, technology, and health companies, such as TikTok or Meta.

Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician who is also the director of the laboratory, said that TikTok's rules were not technically restrictive. He stated that "Really, what their input seems to have done was put some speed bumps into place." Critics of TikTok point out that these limits are less restrictive than those in Douyin, the Chinese version. Douyin is limited to a maximum of 40 minutes. It can't then be used for more than 14 years old. TikTok claims that the apps are operated by different teams and serve separate markets. Rich expressed interest in Douyin's method. "One of the most interesting debates among lawmakers is that China knows the impact of the digital space upon kids," Rich said. "They are conscious of creating a digital ecosystem which helps them to be smarter, healthier, and more in solidarity with one another." Clement, a teacher from Virginia, stated that he would like to see TikTok respond more strongly. He said that TikTok would not make the service available during school if they truly cared about helping children and their motives were sincere. TikTok is not necessary for children under 18 years of age. Eve Slemp is a senior at East Lyme High School, Connecticut. She is an avid TikTok user. She limits the time she spends on the app to a maximum of an hour during the week, and to two to three hours on weekends. Recently, she discovered settings that allowed her to see how many times she opened TikTok in one day. She knows all the TikTok slang, such as "Am I the drama?" For career inspiration, she watches the #dayinmylife videos featuring workers from Google or Instagram. Lillie Pittman (16 years old) is a junior at Midlothian High School, Virginia. She uses TikTok every day for two hours. It is a vital part of her social life as well as the culture at her high-school. She said that she and her very, really close friends send 50-60 TikToks each day. Then I get probably 100. Slemp, a senior from Connecticut, stated that TikTok would face a lot of criticism from teens if it had a hard limit. She said that they are setting a time limit to make it seem like they care about teens' mental health. "But they are smart and know that if they do this, they won't be as popular."