- What is TikTok?
- Is there a TikTok age limit?
- Potential risks for children on TikTok
- Can you put parental controls on TikTok?
- Is there a kid-friendly version of TikTok?
If you have a tween or teen then you have heard of TikTok. Maybe your child is pestering you to get an account and you’re not sure what age is appropriate for them to sign up or perhaps you have given in already but want to add parental controls. We’re going to give you the low down on this social media phenomenon and share some top tips to keep your kids safe.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a short-form video app where users create and post or stream content and watch other users’ videos. In September 2021, TikTok announced that 1 billion people around the world use TikTok each month. 😲
The content on this platform varies wildly and can be innocent, hilarious, entertaining, or of a more mature nature. Then there are the often dangerous viral challenges that circulate, enticing kids to do some very strange and silly things.
Net Aware gives the app an overall safety rating of “average”. It rates the safety features, privacy, and location favorably, both receiving a score of 4 out of 5. However, it gives reporting and blocking 3 out of 5, and the content a 2 out of 5. 🤔
Is there a TikTok age limit?
TikTok requires users to be at least 13 years old. For users between 13 and 15 years old, TikTok automatically sets their accounts to private which stops them from private messaging and only permits friends to comment on their videos. This is a great start to keep your younger teens in a safer TikTok bubble. ✔️
However, if your child is under 13, don’t think they haven’t been on TikTok either on their own account or with friends. In an article from The New York Times, it's revealed that a third of TikTok’s U.S. users may be 14 or under. Yikes!
Potential risks for children on TikTok
There have been some tragic stories surrounding the deaths of children attempting viral challenges that have gone wrong. The strong lure and impact of social media can’t be underestimated when it comes to children. 📱
Even if your child isn’t tempted to partake in a challenge, other risks include:
👁️🗨️ Cyberbullying - this can be body shaming, ridiculing, or negative comments.
👯♀️ Mature content - your kid could stumble across explicit lyrics, provocative moves, or physically dangerous challenges.
🧐 Stranger danger - if your child is 16 or over their account will automatically be set to “public”. That means their activity is visible to everyone and they can communicate with the 1 billion active TikTok users.
It’s not all bad news with TikTok but it is important to know what the risks are. Let’s see what you can do to protect your child on TikTok.
Can you put parental controls on TikTok?
Fortunately, TikTok has provided a number of parental control features you can activate by using “Family Pairing” in the app. Family Pairing allows you to control your child’s privacy settings from your own device. There is a Guardian’s Guide on the TikTok website with information on these features and also more general internet safety advice.
Here are some of the important parental controls available on TikTok:
Set a screen time limit
You can set a time limit of 40/60/90/120 minutes. Once this limit is reached, your teen will require a passcode to keep using TikTok.
Limit unsuitable content
You can enable restricted mode which filters out content not appropriate for younger people.
Turn off direct messaging
You can decide who is able to send your child messages by disabling the feature completely or choosing friends only.
Turn off comments
You can decide who can comment on your child’s videos by disabling the feature completely or choosing friends only.
Choose a private account
They won’t get famous this way which may be the opposite of what they want but it’s exactly what you want for their safety and wellbeing. Teens are particularly sensitive to negative comments and the internet is full of people who leave unpleasant remarks even if they’re not warranted.
Make sure you choose a passcode for the settings so your kid can’t amend these. You might also need to keep an eye on your child’s device to make sure they don’t download TikTok again and set up a new account with a different email address, especially if they are resistant to the idea of you monitoring their TikTok usage, even if it is out of love and care for them.
✨ An easy way to do this is to limit what apps they can download in the first place, or even block them from downloading apps in general. You can do this in Google Play and Apple:
Google Play - You need to use Family Link which allows you to limit the apps on your child’s device by blocking certain apps or requiring your approval to download new apps.
Apple App Store - You can choose to “not allow” (or allow) your child from being able to install apps.
With all of these parental controls available you can keep your kids much safer on TikTok. Of course, technology isn’t infallible and you should still have a conversation with your child about appropriate content and set some boundaries together.
Is there a kid-friendly version of TikTok?
There is a child-friendly version of TikTok out there. Zigazoo was created by parents with young kids who built it with safety in mind. The app has a number of in-built security and privacy features, plus every piece of feed content is reviewed by a human. ❤️ Videos that don’t meet their criteria will be made “private” instead of “public”.
Now that you know how to keep your kids safe on TikTok you can implement these actions in minutes. It's important to research other ways you can keep your child safe online for extra peace of mind.