Will TikTok’s New Safety Measures for Kids Actually Keep Them Safe?

By Maliyah Ledesma, age 11 and IndyKids staff

In the world we live in today, we rely on technology more by the second, so it’s easy for young folks to get lost mindlessly scrolling. This is why social media platform TikTok announced in March that they would be implementing a new default setting with safeguards for young users.

Kids under 13 now have a 60-minute app limit for TikTok applied by default. Once this timer is up, a parent will have to enter a password that extends their screen time by 30 minutes. Meanwhile, kids 13 or older can get access to their own passcode and continue to use the app. These older kids can also turn off the original settings, but if it’s tracked that they spend around 100 minutes on TikTok a day, they will be required to set their own limit, though they can easily bypass this with their code.

TikTok believes these measures can influence teens to be a little bit more conscious with the time they spend on social media. However, many believe that these measures aren’t enough. It has been proven that social media content can have a detrimental effect on children’s mental health and can lead to depression and social anxiety. This is due to the addictive nature of platforms like TikTok, which causes some users to spend hours scrolling through the app without them even knowing it. According to 60 Minutes, nearly 1,200 families are filing lawsuits against social media companies as of Dec. 11, 2022.

According to the Tech Oversight Project, TikTok’s changes are “a fake ploy to make parents feel safe without actually making their product safe.” With a few taps, teens can easily override the safeguards and keep scrolling. “Companies like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok centered their business models on getting kids addicted to the platforms and increasing their screen time to sell them ads,” explained Kyle Morse, the Tech Oversight Project’s director, in a statement. “By design, tech platforms do not care about the well-being of children and teens.”

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