TikTok App Facts for Parents
If you are a parent, you may have heard about the TikTok app. Your kids may even be using the app right now. TikTok has more than 130 million active users. Many of those users are kids and teens. So, should you be worried about your kids using TikTok? What is TikTok anyway? Here are the facts that parents need to know about the TikTok app.
What Is TikTok?
TikTok is a social media app that you can download onto your phone. The app was first launched in China, where it is known as Douyin, in September 2016. It was released to rest of the world in 2017 under the name of TikTok.
The app allows users to view short videos created by other people. Users can also create their own short videos. Individual videos recorded in the app can be up to 15 seconds long. Users can then string individual videos together to make a 60 second story.
TikTok is music orientated. Many of the videos feature people lip syncing to well-known songs, or dancing to songs. Users can also add special effects to videos, and they can apply filters. The music theme of the app is not surprising. The Chinese company that owns TikTok, Bytedance, purchased Musical.y in 2107. It then merged the two apps together.
TikTok is a social media platform. Users can create profiles, they can like videos, and they can chat and send messages to one another. The platform is very popular with tweens and teens. In fact, TikTok has become one of the most downloaded social media apps there is.
Why Do Kids Love TikTok?
Children love TikTok because it is easy use. It provides an opportunity for them to be creative and to generate a following. The time limits on videos and the in-app special effects mean that kids can create snappy posts. They can then instantly share their creations with their friends. Another reason that kids say that they love TikTok is that aren’t many adults on the platform. It’s become a virtual place for kids to hang out.
Is There a Mnium Age Requirement to Join TikTok?
Officially, the minimum age to sign up for an account with TikTok is 12+. However, the only control over that is filling in your date of birth. In other words, any child who can count will be capable of getting around the age restriction.
What Parents Need to Know About TikTok
TikTok is a social media app. As such, anyone can create an account and interact with other users. So, the same caution needs to be applied to children using TokTok as would be applied to kids using Facebook or Twitter.
In our opinion, the biggest danger is that parents will think that TokTok is a kid’s app. It’s not. So, it needs the same levels of supervision that any other social media app needs. Here a few things that parents need to be aware of about the TikTok app.
Downloading the App Gives Users Access to All Content
You can download the TikTok app for free. Downloading gives the user instant access to all the content on the site. In-app upgrades are available, and there is advertising on the app. So, kids with debit cards could be tempted to spend money. Instant access to all public content on the app means there are no restrictions on what a child can view. TikTok is not awash with inappropriate content. However, inappropriate content does exist in the app.
TikTok Accounts are Public by Default
When a TikTok app account is first up, the account is set to public. That means that anyone can view content created by your child. However, only approved followers can send your chid messages. Approval, though, only takes one click. In a world where the number of followers on a social media account is everything, it’s going to be very tempting for a kid to approve everyone who wants to follow them.
Inappropriate Content on TikTok
Like all responsible social apps, TikTOk does its best to keep inappropriate content off the platform. But, like all social apps, it doesn’t always succeed at this. There have been reports of sexualised content on the platform. There have also been reports of posts promoting self-harm. Unfortunately, algorithms and moderators can’t catch it all.
The problem for parents, and for TikTok, is that we all have different opinions of what is inappropriate for kids of a certain age. You must also remember that, although the app is very popular with kids, it is not a kid’s app. Content that might be acceptable for a 17-year-old to watch, for example, will not always be appropriate for every 13-year-old, or younger kids, to see. Because TikTok is very music based, parents should also be aware that the lyrics of some songs may not be appropriate for young kids.
Encouraging Inappropriate or Dangerous Behavior
Just like YouTubers, people on TikTok want to get noticed. They want to encourage likes and followers. This could encourage children to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. For example, take on dangerous challenges that are trending on the platform.
The Dangers of Trolling
Kids producing videos on TikTok might receive some unpleasant comments about themselves or their videos. On some social media sites this type of trolling has been linked to youngsters developing eating disorders and / or drastically changing their appearance to please their new found “friends”. Sadly, in some cases, social media trolling has also been linked to child suicides.
Adults Posing as Kids
There have been concerns raised that TIkTok might be used by pedophiles to groom children. Adults posing as children might try to gain a child’s confidence and then arrange to meet the child. In some reported cases, adults on TikTok have convinced some children to exchange inappropriate photos and videos of themselves.
Data Security Concerns
It has also been suggested that TikTok retains an alarming amount of data on children that use the app. This information includes social media contacts, phone numbers, and the child’s location. If that information were ever to get into the public domain, that would be of great concern to parents.
What has TikTok Done to Address These Concerns?
To be fair, TikTok has taken steps to address these concerns. They introduced enhanced privacy settings that restrict the viewing of videos to approved followers only. Account deletion has been made much easier. TikTok has restricted private messaging to approved followers only. They have also introduced parental controls, which includes the setting of a maximum time allowed in the app each day.
The Bottom Line – Is the TikTok App Safe for Kids?
We don’t want to give you the wrong impression about TikTok. It is not an app that is overflowing with inappropriate content. There have, though, been some serious concerns raised about children using this app. Should you ban your children from using TikTok? That depends on the age of the child, the child’s maturity, and on your own personal opinions. For older children and teens, educating them on the safe use of the internet might be more appropriate.
The important thing to remember is that TikTok is not an app designed solely for kids. It is a social media platform that adults use as well. If you are concerned about your child using TikTok, check out the app for yourself and see what you think. If you are happy enough with the content on the app, you can then set up an account and control it, to some degree, with the parental controls.
Sadly, there is no such thing as a 100% safe online website or app. Wherever public posting, comments and content is allowed, there will always be people who want to abuse it. That’s why children’s use of online resources needs to be monitored. And it is why kids need to be taught about what is safe online and what is not. We hope that you found this post interesting. If you did, please share it on your social media accounts so that other parents can join in the conversation about TikTok. We will be publishing more articles on online security for kids soon. If you’d like to keep up to date with what’s new on Best Panic Alarm, please subscribe to our mailing list. Thanks for visiting, have a great and safe day!