By Anonymous High School Student

TikTok is a creative video sharing app that has become a very popular social media platform for all ages, including young children.  Like most social media apps, users must be 13+ to create a TikTok account. However, young kids know how to get around apps with age limits, it is not difficult to bypass these restrictions by giving the app a fake birthday.

Before you decide to let your child under 13 (or even 13+) onto TikTok, here are some issues to consider:

  1. It is nearly impossible to find a trendy dance on TikTok where the song or the dance moves (or BOTH) are not sexual in nature. Have a conversation with your child about how, while they may see other TikTokers doing these sexual dances, they are not appropriate for children to do. Monitor the dances your children do and post. A popular move in trending dances right now is “throwing it back,” a move commonly used to dance sexually on another person while clubbing. Though they may be difficult to find, there are cute, innocent dances that can be found on TikTok that you can encourage your child to do.
  2. Users can link other social media accounts to the app, including their Instagram and YouTube profiles.
  3. If there are no restrictions on your child’s account, any user can follow, private message, or comment on your child’s profile.
  4. A large portion of popular audio snippets and songs on TikTok contain explicit and inappropriate language.
  5. TikTok itself collects a variety of information from its users, including location, other social media information, messages, contacts, posts, likes, comments, and more.
  6. The app allows in-app purchases of coins, which allow users to share their creativity. You can disable in-app purchases in Restrictions.

To help avoid some of pitfalls that may occur on a TikTok, here are some configuration suggestions for your kids accounts:

Set up a private account

With a private account, other users cannot see your child’s videos unless they follow you and you approve them.

  1. Go to your child’s profile page.
  2. Click on the three dots that are located in the top right-hand corner and select Privacy and Settings.
  3. Select the Privacy and Safety option and toggle Private Account on.

Manage the comments you can receive 

  1. Go to Privacy and Safety settings.
  2. Tap Who Can Send Me Comments.
  3. Choose Everyone, Friends (mutual followers), or Off.

Turn off comments for a single video

  1. Open the video for which you want to turn off comments.
  2. Tap the Menu button.
  3. Select Comments Off.

Turn off/manage duets

  1. Go to Privacy and Safety settings.
  2. Tap Who Can Duet With Me.
  3. Choose Everyone, Friends (mutual followers), or Off.

Manage private messages

  1. Go to Privacy and Safety settings.
  2. Tap Who Can Send Messages to Me.
  3. Choose Everyone, Friends, or No one.

Block/report offensive users

  1. From the offending user’s profile, tap the “…” in the upper-right corner.
  2. Select Block this user. You can also Unblock or Report a user on the same menu.

Consider a third-party monitoring software 

Third-parties, such as Bark can monitor direct messages and comments sent/received by your child on a variety of social media platforms, not just TikTok

Finally, be sure to sit down and have a conversation with your child about personal information and strangers on the internet. Even with all the privacy settings enabled, your child still has the ability to share their name, address, phone number, etc. with strangers on TikTok. The most valuable thing you can do to encourage your child’s safety online is to educate them about the dangers of the internet.

At Savvy Cyber Kids we educate children, parents, and teachers about how to stay safe in a digital world. Follow the link to our website to learn more.

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