Any app or game that connects to the internet poses a potential risk to children, but what about the ever popular TikTok? We explain everything parents and guardians need to know about this social network.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a content creation platform, the most popular social network among children and teens, suitable for users over 12 years old. At the time it was called musical.ly, but in August 2018 it was renamed TikTok after being acquired by the Start Japanese ByteDance.
TikTok is not the same app as musical.ly, but it is very similar. It is a social network for teens that allows them to create videos and share them with other users. Normally in these videos they appear to be singing and dancing some of their favorite songs.
The app also lets you use visual effects and filters which is another reason young people like to use it. You can also broadcast live, although you must have a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and be over 16 years of age. Private messages can also be sent only by users 16 years of age or older.
On TikTok’s parenting page, it’s pretty clear that they shouldn’t allow children under 13 to use the app. But, as is often the case, this rule can easily be ignored if the child under 13 chooses a different date of birth when creating the account.
Likewise, they could go beyond the restrictions for those under 16 by creating an account with a false date of birth that would make them of age. Of course, they cannot change it in an account they have previously created.
What kind of content is on TikTok?
For the most part, TikTok’s content is fun and doesn’t hurt anyone, but that doesn’t mean your sons and daughters won’t see inappropriate things or be exposed to the use of slurs and profanity. .
Videos aren’t filtered before they appear in the app, and while it’s highly unlikely that you will find anything unpleasant in the recommended section of the app, it’s fairly easy to find videos that you want. don’t want your kids to see.
The song library can also include lyrics that you might find inappropriate for your young children (they can include swearing or talking about topics you don’t want your kids to hear) and there is no way to block it: children can choose the clip they want to sing along with them.
The app is intended for ages 12 and up and, among other things, may include “infrequent / moderate adult / provocative themes”, “infrequent / moderate cartoons or imaginary violence” and ” nudity or infrequent / moderate sexual content ”.
The other big issue from a parent’s perspective is that, like many social networks, TikTok is set by default so that all uploaded content is made public, which means anyone will be able to see and comment on a video that you son or daughter creates.
TikTok lets you choose who can comment on your videos, and you can also choose to turn comments off completely in the app’s settings.
If comments are enabled, keep in mind that they are also unfiltered and that any friend or follower of your son or daughter might leave an offensive comment on their video.
Later we will explain how to change the security settings to avoid this.
TikTok Privacy Changes (January 2021)
However, since January 2021, TikTok has made some changes to improve the safety of children under 16.
- Accounts are automatically private.
- Other users cannot download videos created by users under the age of 16.
- Under 16s can choose which of their friends can comment.
- They can choose whether the videos they upload are public or not.
- Videos created by children under 16 will not be suggested to other users.
- Other users cannot use the “duet” function on videos created by people under the age of 16.
There have also been changes for 16 and 17 year old users:
- Videos created by users aged 16 and 17 cannot be downloaded by other app users, although this option can be turned off.
- Only friends of their choice can use the “duo” function.
If you think TikTok is secure enough, we recommend that you read our tutorial on using TikTok.
Can TikTok be safe for minors?
Not completely. The best thing to do is supervise them when they use the app (which they won’t like at all) and verify that they have set their account as private.
This means that only your followers (friends they approve through the app) can see your videos. Once an account is private, you (or, more dangerously, your child) must approve friend requests, giving you more control over who can view videos.
As we said, TikTok automatically creates the under 16 accounts, but you can tap on the three dots icon in the top right corner to go to the “ Privacy and Security ” section. Make sure the “Private account” option is enabled.
There are other options below that let you turn off comments and configure who can “duo” your videos, react to your posts, send you messages, or watch your videos. For private accounts, only current subscribers and those you approve later will be able to see what you post.
There are also other options to filter comments and you can set up a keyword list. If any of them appear in a comment, you won’t be able to see it. It’s a shame that you can’t choose the default filters, because it’s practically impossible to manually list all profanities.
It bears repeating that once a video has been recorded, it does not necessarily have to be published publicly. When posting, you can choose the “Private” option by tapping on the “Who can view my video” section.
In fact, you don’t even need to post the video to TikTok. Your son or daughter can use the download button to save the video to their mobile, then you can give them permission to share it with their friends and family through other app, be it Skype, WhatsApp …
We recommend that you log in using the mechanism of the app itself and do not use the login system of Facebook, Google or any other social network. This is for security reasons.
Additionally, you need to make sure that your son or daughter doesn’t reveal too much personal information when creating their TikTok profile.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide whether you’re okay with your son or daughter using TikTok or not. You may or may not be, but under supervision. Whatever decision you make, you should talk to her about the risks and dangers of social media, especially its addiction.
You need to establish rules of use and make sure that they understand that these are necessary to protect them. TikTok is fun and it might seem cruel to forbid your kids to use the app, but you shouldn’t do it without supervision.