As the popularity of TikTok continues to soar, parents are becoming increasingly concerned about the safety of the platform for their children. With over 3 billion downloads, the app has become a hot favorite among tweens and teens, but there are valid concerns about inappropriate content and user data security. In this article, we explore everything parents need to know about TikTok and how to keep their kids safe online.
TikTok started in 2016. It was known as Musical.ly, a lip-syncing app that allowed users to create short videos mainly focused on lip singing content. The app was acquired by a Beijing-based company in 2018 and merged with the Chinese app TikTok. While lip-syncing is still a prevalent theme on the platform, TikTok now offers a range of content, including challenges, dance routines, and pop culture clips.
TikTok gained popularity because of its easy-to-use video creation tools. This blurred the line between creator and consumer far more than YouTube had ever managed, taking over the market by storm. Shortly after this platform became a success a vast library of licensed music allowed teens to soundtrack their clips without fear of copyright strikes.
TikTok soon became a popular way for teens to share videos. Each video lasts up to three minutes, and users can add a variety of filters and effects to enhance them. They also have the ability to send videos privately among friends or with the general public. Anyone can see public videos, even if they don’t have an account. This is where the danger begins.
TikTok is fertile ground for a lot of fun and a good deal of trouble. No matter which social media platform your child is using—even if it’s a purportedly trustworthy, limited version aimed at
children, like YouTube Kids—they’ll likely come across potential safety issues.
What Parents Need to Know
- Predators and cyberbullying: TikTok allows users to contact anyone worldwide, and this presents a risk for predators who might use flattery and compliments to lure children. The “Duets” feature of the app has also been exploited by sexual predators, who use it to send young creators explicit messages. Cyberbullying is also prevalent on the app, and children can receive hurtful comments and messages.
- Inappropriate content: TikTok’s algorithmically generated default feed, called “For You,” can expose users to sexual, violent, and racist content. Even if a user sets their account to private, they may still encounter inappropriate content on the public feed.
- Mental health: The conversations around mental health on TikTok can be dangerous. Videos about depression and self-harm can encourage negative behaviors in vulnerable children. Moreover, TikTok addiction can lead to depression, anxiety, and stress, which are linked to poor working memory.
- Pressure to create content: TikTok encourages content creation, which can lead to anxiety in children who feel pressure to create better content and gain popularity. TikTok encourages content creation, as users can use the “Reactions” feature to respond to videos they like with their own take. While this set-up could support a child’s artistic impulses, it might also cause anxiety. Additionally, many challenges on the app can be dangerous, and children may participate in them to gain followers and likes.
Tips for Parents with kids using TikTok
- Talk to your child about their online activity: It is essential to have an open and honest discussion about digital literacy and footprint. Encourage your child to share their experiences on TikTok, and educate them about the risks involved.
- Set boundaries: Monitor your child’s activity on TikTok and set boundaries around the use of the app. Limit screen time, and make sure your child understands the importance of protecting their privacy.
- Use parental control apps: Parental control apps such as Bark can help you monitor your child’s activity on TikTok and other social media platforms. These apps can alert you to potential risks, including cyberbullying and inappropriate content.
- Educate yourself: As a parent, it is essential to keep yourself informed about the latest trends and safety concerns on social media platforms such as TikTok. Attend workshops or webinars and stay up-to-date with the latest advice from online safety experts.
TikTok is a popular social media platform that offers a range of content and entertainment for its users. However, parents must be aware of the risks involved in their child’s use of the app. By understanding the dangers and taking proactive measures to keep their children safe online, parents can ensure that their child’s experience on TikTok is a positive one.
With the right approach, TikTok can be a fun and creative outlet for children while maintaining their safety and security.
For more information on how to approach this issue in a school platform, please feel free to contact us!