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TikTok adds options to encourage users to take a break from endless scrolling

<i>Adobe Stock</i><br/>TikTok plans to roll out new options to encourage users to take a break from endlessly scrolling.
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TikTok plans to roll out new options to encourage users to take a break from endlessly scrolling.

Catherine Thorbecke, CNN Business

TikTok plans to roll out new options to encourage users to take a break from endlessly scrolling short-form videos on the platform amid public pressure for tech companies to address excessive social media usage.

TikTok said in a blog post Thursday that it will introduce a new option in the coming weeks for users to set custom time limits for how much uninterrupted time they want to spend using the app, before getting a reminder to take a break. Previously, TikTok allowed users to get notified if they spent more than 40, 60, 90 or 120 minutes on the app per day.

“These prompts will remind people to take a break after a certain amount of uninterrupted screen time, which they can set as they choose,” Jordan Furlong, a product manager of digital well-being at TikTok, said in the blog post. According to the company, the prompt will read: “Break reminders help you feel more mindful and balanced on TikTok.”

A new screen time dashboard will also give users data about how much time they are spending on TikTok, including summaries of their daily time spent on the platform, the number of times they opened the app and a breakdown of daytime and nighttime usage. Users can opt-in for weekly notifications to review their screen time dashboard.

The company also said it will issue users between the ages of 13 and 17 “digital well-being prompts” when they have used the app for more than 100 minutes in a single day. The prompts will “remind them of our screen time limit tool the next time they open the app,” Furlong wrote. (It’s unclear how TikTok decided on 100 minutes as the threshold for screen time intervention for teens. TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

The updates come after months of pressure on social media companies to do more to help users’ well-being in the digital age, and as lawmakers and advocates increasingly scrutinize platforms’ mental health impacts on younger users. Executives from TikTok, YouTube and Snap were grilled by Senators late last year about the steps their platforms were taking to protect teens.

Other social media platforms have previously announced similar initiatives. Instagram launched its “Take a Break” tool in December of last year.

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