TikTok app safety – What parents need to know

TikTok 'Your In Control' safety videos to promote privacy, safety and positivity to users

TikTok is a social networking app that replaced the popular Musical.ly app when it went offline in 2017. Know as Douyin in China, it gives users the ability to watch and create short clips of up to 60 seconds. With 1 billion active users across 155 countries, it seeks to promote safety and has recently released a range of safety videos to promote its safety tools.

About the App

What is TikTok?

TikTok parent guide from Josh Ochs at SmartSocial.com

It’s a social media app that gives users the opportunity to share 60 second short videos with friends, family or the entire world. Like Twitter-owned Vine and Musical.ly before it, videos shared range from funny sketches to lip-sync videos featuring special effects. Currently, the app is available in 75 languages with 1 billion active users (December 2019). Like Musical.ly before it, it is most popular with under 16s. It has also now become the most downloaded app of 2019.

Example of videos you will find on TikTok platform
Parental controls

Learn how to set privacy and safety settings on the TikTok social platform to help your child have a safer experience.

See guide

Visit TikTok Safety Centre to learn more about it’s educational video series, “You’re in Control” – foster a safe, positive environment where users are in control and can express themselves creatively.

Visit Site

What can you find on the app?

Videos featuring comedy sketches or lip-syncs featuring the latest songs or voices over extracts from films.

What is the minimum age for TikTok app?

13 is the minimum age according to TikTok’s terms and conditions.

How does TikTok work?

When you download the app, you can instantly see the videos that others have posted on the channel but are not able to share or post anything until you have set up your own account.

How to create an account

Click on the ‘person’ icon and you can choose to sign up with an email, phone or existing Google, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account.

Once you have selected an option, you are then asked to enter your date of birth, if it is below the age of 13, the app displays the following message: “Sorry, looks like you’re not eligible for TikTok. But thanks for checking us out!”

Your feed highlights what is going on in your community and a separate ‘For you’ feed shows tailored recommendations for you.

There is also a digital wellbeing element which alerts users who have been on the app for more than 2 hours.

Why do teens love the TikTok?

It is a way to express themselves and create short-form video clips to gain a following and build a community around their passions. It also features some great special effects that users can apply to their videos to make them more unique. You can also cross-post the content on other platforms to share it with more people.

What do other parents say about the app?

Seeing inappropriate content

Parents have expressed concerns around the inappropriate language of some of the videos posted which may make this less suitable for younger children.

Contact from strangers

Predators seeking to connect with children is another risk that parents have said to their children.
For more insight on parent review, visit Common Sense Media.

What should parents be concerned about?

When you download the app users can see all the content without creating an account although they are not able to post, like or share anything until they’ve set up an account on the app.

You can set up your account by using your existing Google, Facebook, Instagram account, via email or phone.

By default all accounts are public so anyone on the app can see what your child shares. However, only approved followers can send them messages.

Users can like or react to a video, follow an account or send messages to each other. There is the risk that strangers will be able to directly contact children on the app.

Children may be tempted to take risks to get more of a following or likes on a video so it’s important to talk about what they share and with who.

To delete an account you have to request a code from the app using a phone number.

Does TikTok have any safety features?

Like Facebook and Instagram, it has a digital wellbeing element (which is password protected) which alerts users who have been on the app for more than 2 hours. You can also turn on ‘restricted mode’ to filter out inappropriate content on the app.

Set your account to private

Also, you can set an account to be private so that all videos can only be seen by the creator and no one else on the platform. With a private account, you can approve or deny users and limit incoming messages to followers only.
Please note that even with a private account, your child’s profile photo, username, and bio are still visible to all users on the platform. You can manage who can comment, duet and direct message your child on the app.

As of 6 December the following features will be rolled out with a full rollout across TikTok markets before the end of 2019:

Live streaming: The minimum age limit to host a live stream will still remain 16+, however, TikTok has updated their policy so only users aged 18 and over can purchase and give virtual gifts, and also only those 18 and over can receive gifts from their fans.

Additionally, users wishing to use the live streaming feature will need to have a track record of creating quality content that follow TikTok’s Community Guidelines. Users who want to live-stream will be required to have a certain number of fans before they can use this feature.

Family Safety Mode: TikTok’s new Family Safety Mode which will be available later this month, is an in-app feature designed for parents to help keep their kids safe whilst using TikTok. The Family Safety Mode allows the parent to link their TikTok app to up to three kids to manage screen time, turn on restricted mode which prevents kids viewing inappropriate content and lastly, parents can set restrictions on who can engage with children’s comments. For example, you can restrict whether or not comments are allowed on their video.

Parents will not be able to monitor a child’s profile when these features are switched on and both the parent and child must consent to use this feature before use.

Be sure to update the TikTok app to ensure you are kept up to date with the latest features.

How to report inappropriate content on the TikTok app?

You can report content that doesn’t follow TikTok’s community guidelines within the app, click here to find out how to do it on the app.

You can delete followers or ‘Fans‘ by choosing the fan you’d like to remove and selecting ‘Block’ from the menu of options.

6 things you can do to keep them safe on the app

1. Talk to them about Cyberbullying

Users can leave comments on videos posted so, this may leave your child open to receiving negative messages. Giving them guidance about what to do if they are cyberbullied or see others being cyberbullied will help them to keep themselves safe.

2. Set their musical.ly account to private

Go to their account profile page and tap on the three dots in the top right corner.  Then select “Privacy and Settings”.  From the options select  “Privacy and Safety” options and toggle “Private Account” on / off.

3. Make sure they are Share Aware

Help them to think more carefully about what they post and who it may be seen by so that they protect themselves.

4. Get familiar with the community guidelines

To make sure you know what is and isn’t accepted on the app you and your child can read through the community guidelines to help them to be informed about what they can and can’t do on the app.

5. Be aware of explicit songs on the app

Some of the songs featured on the TikTok app may have explicit language and sexual content that may not suitable for your child. It is best to review the app together with your child beforehand.

6. Turn on Digital Wellbeing settings on TikTok app

To enable “Digital Wellbeing” select the three dots from the right-hand corner. From the options select “Digital Wellbeing” under the app settings. Tap “Turn on” and set a passcode and toggle “Screen Time Management”.

You can also set the “Restricted Mode’ in the same way to restrict inappropriate content on the app.

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