With Vine by now having long since been retired, the need for a platform for Generation Z to post short videos of themselves dancing to a popular song or just simply making an effort to be funny has finally been filled over the past year or so by a new app, TikTok. I for one, am so thankful for the arrival of TikTok and can not think to imagine a world where I wouldn’t have access to these absolutely hilarious and well-made videos.
Clearly, it seems that anyone outside the ages of 13-22 just isn’t up with the times. As it turns out, TikTok is absorbing so much of the time of our future world leaders that they have announced new parental controls that allow parents to determine a time limit of how long their child can spend on the app each day. Some of the interval options include 40 minutes, 60 minutes, and 90 minutes, which doesn’t seem like enough time for me to properly lie in bed watching TikTok’s instead of going to sleep like I should be. The rollout also includes options to turn off direct messaging and only allow children to see “age appropriate” content, and is currently only available in some European countries as TikTok tests the technology.
I want to focus on what I think is the most innovative part of these new parental controls, the time limit. Please, in the comments, correct me if I am wrong, but a technology that limits the amount of time children can spend on an app is new to me. If we apply this idea to other fields, I think this type of technology could be a huge breakthrough in the fight to keep kids active and engaged with the world and off their screens as much as possible. When my mom realizes that my younger sisters and their friends have been making TikToks for 3 hours and maybe they should be doing something else, the solution is to take the phone away. But having your phone at all times is vastly important in today’s world for communication and informational purposes. What if my mom could just press a button that puts the phone in “communication mode,” disabling games and distractors to encourage kids to focus? To me, this seems like a practical technolgy that becomes even more useful when we think past TikTok.