TikTok screen time limit: How app’s new update works – and why it is so easy to bypass

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

TikTok has launched new limits that aim to stop young people spending too long on the app.

But they have already been criticised as not going far enough: they do not really lock children out at all, but instead just ask them if they would like to continue watching. What’s more, if young people are able to set up their own accounts then they can simply lie about their age, and get around those restrictions.

TikTok has said that forcing people to take an active decision that they are still intentionally scrolling through the app forces people to think again, and can help to reduce screen time.

But there are already other, more decisive options available to people who want to take control of their screen time – or somebody else’s.

What is the TikTok limit?

The limit comes into effect when young people under 18 have been using the app for more than 60 minutes in one day. If they have, they’ll be shown a prompt that will notify them of that fact.

It will not explicitly stop them from using the app. Instead, they’ll have to enter a passcode to keep doing so. They’ll also be encouraged at the same time to make use of TikTok’s screen time features, which can help people be more thoughtful about how often and how long people are using the app for.

TikTok says that passcode acts as a prompt to stop using the app. It also says that in testing the new setup has encouraged many more people to visit its screen time settings.

It also comes with other features, such as a weekly message that will be sent to users giving details on how much they have been using the app.

Some of the same tools are rolling out to people who are over 18, too. They will also be able to set specific limits for particular days, for instance.

What if I want a more firm limit?

There are already plenty of ways to limit your usage of certain apps, including TikTok, which are a little more difficult to get around. On both iOS and Android, this can be done from the operating system’s settings.

On iOS, open up the Settings app and click through to “Screen Time”, which will show a chart of how long you have spent on each app as well as the option to set limits on them. The same options can be found in Android’s Settings app, but under the “Digital Wellbeing” option.

These options will present more firm limits, encouraging you not to use the app and making it a bit more difficult to continue doing so. But of course it is still your phone, and so there is always the option to get around it.

What if I want to restrict my children’s usage?

The only situation where you’ll be more firmly locked out of your account is if you use those platforms’ tools that are meant for families, so that parents and guardians can monitor young peoples’ phone usage.

Both Android and iOS have parental controls that can be found through those same screen time menus. And they ensure that children can’t bypass those limits – they will be firmly locked out, unless a parent chooses to give them more access.