TikTok limits the amount of time teens can spend on the app. Do fuses help protect them?

TikTok limits the amount of time teens can spend on the app.  Do fuses help protect them?

Updated March 6, 2023 at 12:42 p.m. ET

It’s Jelena Kecmanovic the psychologist who works with teenagers struggling with their mental health. “Almost all of our sessions start with what happened on TikTok or Instagram,” he says.

Kecmanovic also leads a practice group of other mental health professionals dealing with adolescents. So when TikTok announced last week that it was introducing new usage limits for users under 18 in the US, he and his colleagues scrutinized the new safeguards.

These safeguards include default settings for users under 13 to require parental permission to continue using the app after spending 60 minutes on TikTok in a day. Users between the ages of 13 and 17 must enter their own code to continue using TikTok after 60 minutes of daily use. Users under the age of 18 are encouraged to set their own usage limits by opting out of the default setting.

When Kecmanovic dug into the details of TikTok’s new policies, he was disappointed. “It’s not enough,” he told NPR’s A Martinez.

He compared teenagers on TikTok to adults playing slot machines: “Maybe you win. You’re on a good streak, it’s the middle of the night, and your defense is down. Then something appears in front of the slot machine, saying, ‘You’ve been up too long, in the middle of the night. there is Maybe you should reconsider.” How many people would stop?”

According to Kecmanovic, teenagers’ excessive use of TikTok is not necessarily a reflection of poor impulse control.

“I don’t think it’s so much about teenagers having no self-control. I think it’s about the design of social media, which is basically like slot machines.”

See also  Bandcamp Introduces Playlists Feature to Mobile App

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, already imposes much stricter usage limits on children using its apps in China as the Chinese government moves to regulate teenagers’ use of the technology. In 2021, ByteDance moved access to Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, to users under 14 after 40 minutes of daily use. Children are also blocked from accessing the app every night between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM.

Kecmanovic told NPR’s A Martinez that ByteDance’s policies for Chinese teenage users are much closer to the policies he and his colleagues recommend to families struggling with the negative effects of children’s social media use.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Some excerpts include some quotes from the interview that did not appear in the broadcast version.

Interview excerpts

On how the teenagers she works with see apps like TikTok for themselves

I would say most of our teenagers are aware that this is not helpful. And yet they say, “I can’t help it. I have FOMO, I don’t like it. I know that makes me feel even worse. I feel really bad in the morning, especially if I do it until midnight and it replaces my sleep or daytime. It replaces any activity that might actually be purposeful, meaningful, and joyful. I feel terrible. And yet, what am I missing? Everyone else uses it. I have to be on it. So, on the one hand, they have this compulsion, and also the feeling that if I don’t do it, I’m really missing out. But on the other hand, I have a feeling that it won’t help me.

See also  What you need to know when using 'buy now, pay later' apps

About how children can spend a healthy amount of time on social media

A maximum of 15 minutes per session. We know that running down these very useless and hurtful rabbit holes is especially dangerous. So, if you’ve been on any social media in the last 15 minutes, you’re going to be in a worse and worse mental state. And we know that wearing it for 15 minutes twice a day is much more useful than half an hour in one sitting.

Of all social media, the longer you stay on it, some research has shown, you tend to get more extreme content. And you end up in this space where you really feel compelled.

TikTok’s new features may burden parents

We work with children whose parents are very involved and have more time than many other parents. And even they say, “I just don’t know what to do with this. Too many, I trust that I have raised my children well enough to figure out what is appropriate. But we have no option, because the data shows that it is very, very, very bad for children’s health.

What parents can really do is create family spaces and times when everyone is free. We call it a family media plan. Because we are also the biggest models for children and we use our phones too much. We are on screens too much, we use social media too much. We are constantly distracted. So creating conversations around the dinner table and with the family is so important that everyone signs off at 10:00 p.m. No private use of social media in your room or bathroom. When we go hiking, no one is on it. We all get off it at the dinner table. I think there’s room for parents to start modeling these kinds of more helpful behaviors and connecting with technology in a different way.

See also  Canon launches Auto Tracking and Auto Loop for its Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) camera to simplify...

On what more apps like TikTok should do to reduce the harm their products cause to teen users in the US

The idea is that [the app] turns off at certain times [for teen users], I think it absolutely has to be. Accessing social media as a teenager or in a teenager’s bedroom until the wee hours of the morning is incredibly, incredibly harmful.

We have some really interesting studies that show that even if you turn off notifications, just have a phone in front of you, when two people have dinner together, the level of their relationship, as they later reported, is damaged. I mean, if that phone is there, you’re aware of it. So I would like to see connections, times of the day, night periods when it turns off automatically.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *