The latest ideas from TikTok and Meta to improve digital well-being
Social media platforms unveiled new tools to help users better manage their digital well-being and be aware of the issue social network use.
Children on their smartphones. Image: iStock
Digital well-being is a hot topic these days. Social networks are getting inventive as they seek ways to improve the experience of their users and, at the same time, polish up their reputations.
Meta and TikTok are no exception; both have recently unveiled new tools to help users better manage their social network use and be fully aware of every aspect of the issue.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the time we spend in front of screens has significantly increased. And the consequence has been an amplification of the angst felt by many, particularly among young social network users and digital addicts.
TikTok, a firm favorite of these younger generations, is taking steps to give its users more tools to better manage and understand the stakes of their online presence. The aim is to make Internet users more responsible and proactive when it comes to managing the digital aspect of their life.
Make users aware of the time they spend on a device
Starting this Thursday, June 9, TikTok is setting up a dashboard for each user that brings together numerous types of data on their activity on the platform: daily screen time, the number of times the app has been opened on any day, as well as the breakdown of the time spent during the day and night. This data is valuable for helping users have a better understanding of their use of the social network.
Users can also set predefined amounts of time to be spent on the app per session: a way to set oneself digital limits each time the application is launched. Users can already choose daily screen time limits. “
[P]rompts will remind people to take a break after a certain amount of uninterrupted screen time, which they can set as they choose,” said TikTok.
And the Chinese social network is even going one step further. Soon users between the ages of 13 and 17 who have spent more than 100 minutes on the app in a single day will receive messages explaining the screen time management tools available directly on TikTok.
A new guide will also be available on the social network’s safety center to encourage “the community to reflect more holistically about how they spend their time online — whether on TikTok or elsewhere — and how it makes them feel,” the social giant said in its statement.
To develop these new tools, TikTok was informed by a study conducted in partnership with the Internet Matters association, among parents and teenagers in France, Germany, Italy, the UK and Ireland.
The report points out the importance but also the challenges involved with digital “self-regulation”, i.e. the ability to manage one’s own behavior on social networks, particularly for young people, who are looking to develop “healthy online habits.”
Also emphasized was the importance of flexibility in limiting screen time on different days: the day before an exam, a rainy afternoon, etc.”
The research showed that younger users would welcome the introduction of built-in features and settings that prompt them to both think critically about the time that they are spending online, but also encourage them to use settings to actively manage the time they spent on the app.
It is important that they feel in control of their online experiences and are helped to make considered choices,” said Carolyn Bunting, MBE, CEO, Internet Matters, in a statement.
A series of videos for teaching children good practices
To help build responsibility among its young users, the Meta group has launched a series aimed directly at children. Available on Messenger Kids, the “children’s” version of Facebook’s messaging service, the series, called “Pledge Planets,” consists of four episodes.
Users will explore four planets to learn more about how to behave on the digital landscape. Kindness, patience, respect and safety: the themes will be addressed through interactive games and explanatory videos.
The content is designed to directly engage users and confront them with issues encountered on social networks.