Jun 9, 2022 - Economy

TikTok adds more speed bumps to scrolling

Illustration of a cell phone on a therapy couch

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

TikTok is adding more ways for people to take a break from scrolling endlessly, the app announced today.

Why it matters: Tech platforms are responding to a growing wave of criticism that their services are addictive and harmful. TikTok's personalized streams of short videos are known for hooking users.

Details: A new tool set to launch in the next few weeks will let TikTok scrollers control the amount of time they spend on the app in any single session by scheduling breaks.

  • Specifically for teens between 13 and 17 years of age who use the app for more than 100 minutes in a single day, the app will proactively remind them that the feature exists.

Context: The new single-session screen time control is on top of an existing feature which lets people set daily limits.

What they're saying: "Having a positive relationship with digital devices and apps isn't just about measuring screen time, it's also about feeling in control of how we use technology," TikTok said in its announcement.

Our thought bubble: Among the changes announced today, TikTok also said it would be releasing a screen time dashboard inside its own app similar to the ones Apple and Google have natively on iOS and Android devices.

  • If TikTok and other companies were to actually publish an aggregated view of this data for the public, it could show how helpful tools like these are being used and if they help to cut down on screen time.
  • More helpful might be a weekly question about how people feel about their screen time, or go further than just "taking a break" from scrolling.
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