What kind of parental controls does TikTok have?

Some social media apps are easier to control than others. Let’s find out how safe TikTok is for your kids and what you can do to improve their safety while using it.

What is TikTok and how does it work?

TikTok is a popular social media app that allows users to watch, create, and share short and snappy videos – mostly of people lip-synching to popular songs – directly from their smartphone. Friends and followers can show their appreciation via likes and comments and even request duets. And a lot of the time videos are grouped by hashtags indicating popular challenges or memes.

Users sign up with a phone number, email address or via their Instagram or Facebook account. Once logged in, you can search popular creators and categories and hashtags to find videos or use phone contacts to start following friends.

You don’t have to actually create anything to be a part of TikTok: a lot of young users just want to watch what others create and join in that way.

Boy filming himself dancing with his phone on a tripod

Boy filming himself dancing with his phone on a tripod

What age do you have to be to use TikTok?

TikTok asks that users be 13 years of age, but this can easily be bypassed by entering a false date of birth. The app doesn’t ask for any age verification documents, so users under the age of 13 can simply pretend to be teens to gain access.

In the United States, children under 13 can access a section of the TikTok site that includes additional safety features. They can’t comment, search or post their own videos and are only privy to clean, curated videos from the site’s moderators. However, this has not proved popular with most young people and has not yet been rolled out in the UK.

Is TikTok safe for kids?

For the most part, TikTok is harmless and provides a creative outlet for your child to share ideas and have fun within their peer group. However, because many music videos contain swearing and sexual content – including suggestive clothing and dancing – children can enter murky territory quite easily.

It’s a good idea therefore to ask to sit in on some of your child’s TikTok sessions to make sure the stuff they are digesting, the TikTok videos they are making and the way themselves and their peer group are behaving is appropriate.

As with most social media, the TikTok app also opens up myriad opportunities for hurtful behaviour, otherwise known as cyberbullying, which is a huge concern for younger users on all social media platforms. We’ll discuss how to approach this on TikTok later in the article.

Setting up parental controls on TikTok

As TikTok is so popular and so easy to join, it’s important for parents to understand how to keep children safe from internet bullies and how to filter inappropriate content while they’re using TikTok.

In most cases, it’s advised that children don’t share any personal information on their profiles and for parents to familiarise themselves with the TikTok app and how their child uses it before applying any filters.

Knowing your way around a social media platform not only helps you understand what you’d like to modify, it also helps you relate to your child when discussing it. It’s very important that your child sees you as someone they can confide in and open up to.

Anyway, here’s some pointers to get you started…

How to block and report on TikTok

If someone is behaving inappropriately towards your teen or child you always have the option of blocking them and reporting them. Just go to their profile and tap the three dots in the top of the screen. From the option screen select ‘Block’ or ‘Report’ and on the next screen give a reason why you’re reporting them.

To report a specific comment, just tap the comment and from the options that come up, select ‘Report’ and follow the instructions.

To report a specific video, just tap the share icon on the video and then tap ‘Report’ on the next screen and follow the instructions.

Keep an eye out for cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is any cruel form of communication conducted online or via a smartphone. It can occur 24 hours a day, it can be just as serious and unpleasant as any other form of bullying and, rather unfortunately, it can occur on TikTok.

Cyberbullying can take many forms including: belittlement via fake rumour, gossip or upsetting untruths; harassment via messages or humiliating comments; stalking someone persistently with threats and intimidation designed to frighten them; flaming or using extreme and offensive language to frighten and intimidate; using trickery to expose someone’s private life in a bid to ridicule and shame them publicly; and excluding someone to make them feel rejected, unpopular, lonely and despondent. All of these instances can occur on TikTok and every instance of cyberbullying on any platform can be hurtful for the victim’s self-esteem.

Cyberbullying and parental relationships

In order to address cyberbullying, it’s important you have a good relationship with your child, that you understand the social media sites they use and that they see you as someone they can confide in and open up to. Listen to their issues, decided the best course of action with them and don’t use any indiscretions as an excuse to ban them from using their favourite social media sites. If they think this is the consequence of telling you the truth, they may not open up to you in the first place.

Internet Matters

For more information on setting controls across a range of devices, apps and platforms visit Internet Matters

Related articles

Useful links