Tech corner

TikTok app safety – What parents need to know

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How to keep you child safe on the new social media app

The online world can be a tricky place to navigate for youngsters and their parents.

While social media is now an established part of everyday life for many people – it can present a myriad of challenges as well as benefits.

And while parents don’t want their children to miss out on games and apps that their friends are all taking part in - it can be worrying wondering if you child is safe from online threats.

One of the latest social network apps that youngsters are flocking to is TikTok – an app that allows them to share 60 second short videos with friends, family – or the entire world.

Created by the same people who gave us the Musical.ly app, TikTok is now available in 34 languages with 150 million active users. Like Musical.ly before it, it is most popular with under 16s.

All the content that was hosted on Musical.ly is now on TikTok. So, if your child had a Musical.ly account they will now be able to access this content on TikTok.

If your child is creating and sharing content on TikTok here is a guide, created by the online safety organisation Internet Matters, to give parents the information they need to know about the app.

 

What is TikTok?

It’s a social media app that gives users the opportunity to share 60 second short videos online. Users can create 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 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?

Parents have expressed concern 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 potential risk. For more insight on parent reviews, 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 must 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 two hours. You can also turn on ‘restricted mode’ to filter out inappropriate content on the app.

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

 

How to report inappropriate content on the TikTok app?

You can report content that doesn’t follow TikTok’s community guidelines within 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.

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