Life

Ever Spent Hours On TikTok Without Realizing It? The App Is Trying To Fix That.

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Anyone who has ever spent five minutes on TikTok knows just how easy it can be to lose track of time on the app. When you're moving from a video of parrots dancing, to a satirical impression of how God made seahorses, to a breakdown of the smoothest choreography you've ever seen, it's not surprising that you might blink and realize an hour has passed. That's what TikTok's new screen time prompts are here for. The new videos aim to remind users to take a break every once in a while, in the most engaging way possible.

Starting on Feb. 19, TikTok users will see screen time management videos appear in-feed when they've been on the app for a while (the app has not disclosed how many minutes a person has to spend on the app before they see the video). These videos are a part of TikTok's "You're in Control" content series, which pairs popular creators with important messages about health and safety.

The varying prompts seem to approach the topic from a different angle with each video. For example, one prompt features a creator encouraging a person to do other social activities: "Hey, you, stop scrolling. Yes, I'm talking to you...when's the last time you've been outside? Go on a run with your friends! Read a book. Play with your pets. Or go shoot some TikToks outside!"

Another video features a creator encouraging people to check in on their nutrition: "Hold on, you've been scrolling for way too long now. Maybe you should get some food, get some water, and come back later."

In a third video, a creator highlights the crucial importance of getting a good night's sleep: "I understand it's easy to keep watching videos, and trust me — I've been there before. Those videos will still be there tomorrow, so go get some extra sleep. Turn your phone off, do yourself that favor, and have a great night." You can see all of the videos on the TikTok Tips channel.

Though it might seem pretty unusual to witness a social media platform taking creative steps towards getting people to log off, rather than on, more often, this isn't the first effort made by TikTok. The video streaming app also introduced its Screen Time Management feature in April 2019, with the same end goal of helping improve users' "digital wellbeing."

That Screen Time Management tool is still available for users who want to deploy it, or for parents who want to keep track of how much time their kids are spending on TikTok. To set limits for how much time you spend on TikTok, you can go to your profile, click on the top right ellipses icon, then select "Digital Wellbeing," which has an umbrella icon next to it.

From there, you can make changes to Screen Time Management. Specifically, you have the option of setting a time limit of 40, 60, 90, or 120 minutes to spend on the app per day, before you're notified that your screen time is up, and a passcode is required to re-enter the app. Obviously, if you're setting up these constraints for yourself, you'll know what the passcode is — but the block will still allow you to take a moment and recognize how much time you've already spent on the app that day.