TikTok on Wednesday announced new features including a default daily 60-minute limit for users under the age of 18 in an effort to lessen the app's addictive effects.
Younger users will be required to enter a password if they want to binge social videos for more than an hour at one time, the company announced in a blog post.
Parents and other adults can monitor the amount of time teens spend on the app — with a breakdown of daytime and nighttime use — and see the number of times it was opened.
The changes were made in consultation with research by the Digital Wellness Lab at the Boston Children’s Hospital.
"These new features aim to help families establish an ongoing dialogue about safety and well-being in the digital world," the company said.
"TikTok will continue to invest in improving its current features as well as introducing new tools to help users stay in control as they express their creativity, make meaningful connections and enjoy culture-defining entertainment."
It is a critical time for TikTok, owned by ByteDance, to demonstrate that it is doing all it can to be a safe space for users.
The company is facing intense global scrutiny that could lead to the app being banned in some of its largest markets.
Legislators and regulators have two chief lines of concern: whether TikTok’s ownership by a Chinese tech company presents national security risks; and how users, especially young ones, could be influenced by what they see on the app.
Similar curbs are already in place for TikTok’s Chinese cousin Douyin.
ByteDance’s local service has a setting that limits users under the age of 14 to 40 minutes a day and keeps them out entirely from 10pm to 6am daily.
Those restrictions are easier to enforce in China where there are strict rules around real-name registration.
It is unclear whether TikTok’s measures will be as effective in the US, where children may be able to opt out of the restrictions or set their own passwords to unlock accounts.
For TikTok, the time people spend on the app is equally a badge of honour and point of contention.
It leads the social media industry, with users spending an average of 95 minutes a day on the app globally, according to a report last year from Sensor Tower.
YouTube came in second with 74 minutes, while Instagram clocked 51.
Bloomberg contributed to this report