TikTok is launching a slew of new in-app features today, including a new "Family Safety Mode," all aimed at improving digital wellbeing. The app, which took the top spot for short-form videos in the US last year, also faced some scrutiny and fines over its collection and handling of user data. In particular, the concern has centered around how it impacted younger users. Now, there will be more controls in place than ever to ensure a safe experience.
The first and largest new TikTok feature is called Family Safety Mode. As its name implies, Family Safety Mode delivers a safer experience for the social interaction-driven service and app. Specifically, it enables a deeper granularity of control for parents.
Within the app, with TikTok's Family Safety Mode enabled, parents can control screen time, inter-user contact, and restrictions. The first feature is self-explanatory, allowing parents to set firm daily limits on overall TikTok use for their children.
Direct Messages controls take that a step further. As with many popular communication applications, that lets parents limit who can send messages to the connected account. Or, conversely, direct messages can be turned off entirely.
The final Family Safety Mode feature is called Restricted Mode. Summarily, that allows parents to age-gate content shown to their children. If the content isn't appropriate for all 'audiences', it won't be shown.
Screen Time Management expands with reminders in the feed
The second big feature announced by TikTok today may not be as exciting but is undoubtedly important. Last year, the company unveiled tools to allow users to access Digital Wellbeing features and manage their daily screen time. Now, TikTok is taking that a step further with Screen Time Management in Feed.
Screen Time Management in Feed is a collaborative effort with top TikTok content creators. In short, TikTok will now showcase 'You're in Control' safety videos that effectively act as reminders for users about their screen time in the app. Those will crop up as "unique and proactive in-app prompts" in a bid to keep users aware of how long they spend in the app.
The overall goal here is not to forcibly limit screen time for all users but to ensure they take some time outside of the app too. It's effectively a more passive way for TikTok to ask its users "how much time have you spent here today?" Then it's left in users' hands whether or not to limit themselves.
What's the timeline here for global regions?
TikTok is launching these features first in the UK. They'll be available starting today, likely via an app update or at very least a server-side update. But Family Safety Mode and Screentime Management in Feed won't be restricted to that region for long.
While no specifics about exactly when a wider rollout can be expected have been provided by the company. That doesn't mean it won't arrive sooner rather than later. TikTok does indicate that should happen on the scale of "coming weeks" rather than in the coming months.