It has become clear in the past few years that there are many negative effects of social media on mental health worldwide. The majority of people can identify this at some point in their lives as they notice how they compare to others on social media if they use it or feel inadequacy after use.
However, there is also research to back this up. Studies and research, such as this review by Hilal Bashir and Shabir Ahmad Bhat, demonstrate many of these negative effects on mental health including depression, anxiety, and loneliness. This problem has led to increased criticism of these platforms and the addicting algorithms they use to keep users on the app for as long as possible.
In the past, all responsibility to fix the issue has been on users, but on June, 9, TikTok announced some new ways they are seeking to assist with this issue within their Digital Wellbeing tab in the app. Jordan Furlong from TikTok states, “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 and ensuring that the time we spend online contributes positively to our sense of well-being.” This sums up the intent of TikTok and the angle at which they seek to combat that problem.
The key elements of this update include –
1. Scheduled Regular Breaks
This tool will allow people to make sure they aren’t spending too much time on TikTok in one sitting. After a certain amount of uninterrupted time on the app the user can have the app prompt them to take a break. TikTok already has a feature that allows users to set a time limit for each day and get prompted when they reach this limit, but this new tool will add on to the effectiveness of that.
2. Screen Time Dashboard
The new screen time dashboard will allow people to recognize more details about their usage with daily tracking of time spent on the app, the number of times they opened the app, and a breakdown of daytime and night-time usage.
3. Safety Guide
This safety guide, How can I reflect on my digital well-being with my family and friends?, will serve as a resource for community members to acknowledge their social media usage and ensure that they are using it in a responsible, healthy way.
4. Digital Well-being Prompts for Younger Individuals
Users between the ages of 13 and 17 will receive weekly digital well-being prompts as well as a reminder of the screen time limit tool the next time the app is opened after usage for more than 100 minutes in a day due to the susceptible nature of children.
With these new tools, TikTok is doing their part in helping with the mental health issues that persist in society today. This is a major step towards more platforms addressing the harmful consequences of social media usage and is a step in the right direction that we hope other platforms follow.