Many parents have been asking the question “is Tik Tok safe for kids?” In order to answer this question, it is important to understand what the app is about and how it has been used.
Tik Tok is a free social media app designed for creating and sharing short music videos. It replaces the Musical.ly that shut down in August 2018 having all of its 100 million users transferred to Tik Tok app.
What is Tik Tok ?
Developed in China, Tik Tok online is used for creating, sharing and discovering music videos. It is like Karaoke for the digital age.
Users can watch videos of others or even create their own short video clips. Young people tend to use this app to record videos of themselves lip-synching to the latest music.
The videos are recorded in 15-second clips and users can add special effects before sharing them on this platform.
Tik Tok online also enables live streaming of videos via Live.Me and interact with the audience via a chat function.
Lip-syncing and dancing videos are the most popular genres on the platform.
Just like Youtube, TikTok is an interactive online app where you can connect with friends, comment on videos and follow other people on the platform.
Some kids have gained popularity and fame using this app. For instance, Jacob Sartorious became an Internet sensation from his lip-synching videos.
Related : Famous Tik Tok Dances 2020
This is what Tik Tok looks like:
Tik Tok Online Login :
You first need to download the Tik Tok app from Google or Apple store.
Once you have done that, open the Tik Tok app.
Then enter a username ( best not to use your real name) and select a password)
Then click on ‘login’.
You even have the option to log in to Tik Tok using another social media account like Facebook.
How to login to Tik Tok via iTunes
To do this you need to head over to iTunes.
Follow the steps below :
- Click on Programs (Left-hand side of the screen)
- Click on the App store tab
- Search for Tik Tok on the search bar
- Click on the Download button
Now head over to My Programs on your computer.
Then connect your device to your computer using a USB cable
Click on the Programs tab on the screen
Find the available apps and click on Install.
You can now sync your phone with iTunes.
How to login to Tik Tok using a computer?
Currently, you can’t do this directly. Here is how you can do it via Blue stack
Tik Tok Updates (2020)
Tik Tok facing ban in the US following pressure from President Donald Trump
Tik Tok banned from India following clashes between India and Chine (July 2020)
India has banned Tik Tok along with other 59 other Chinese based apps.
The ban followed the clashes between India and China.
Tik Tok being banned in India has cost the company millions of dollars in revenue since it’s largest users outside of China is India.
Kid’s using coded phrases to express depression on Tik Tok (July 2020)
Kids have been using the phrase ” I had pasta tonight” as a coded signal for them dealing with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
There is no doubt that there is plenty of secret slang used by teenagers on online platforms. Hence, it is no surprise that ” I had pasta tonight” has nothing to do with food. Rather a sign for help.
There is also the phrase “I finished my shampoo and conditioner at the same time.” This also signals the same message of anxiety.
Yahoo reported that the phrase comes from an online post titled “Don’t kill yourself today” which was first was posted in a storytelling platform.
However, anyone who is aware of the lines is sending positive thoughts and messages to those dealing with depression.
One Tik Tok user that posted a video saying ” I had pasta tonight” received over 61,000 comments of positivity and hope.
Tik Tok entering the education market ( Update June 2020)
” Tik Tok plans to commission hundreds of experts and institutions to produce educational content for the platform.
Universities and charities are among those who will be paid to create bespoke content for the social media giant.
The new focus could appeal to the trend for micro-learning” BBC News
Initially, educational videos on Tik Tok will include actor Sean Sagar sharing audition tips.
TV presenter Rachel Riley will also share mathematic skills on Tik Tok
Before allowing your child on Tik Tok, read the blog below to understand the parental control measures, privacy and data issues and tips on keeping children safe on Tik Tok.
# 1 Is Tik Tok safe? online Privacy UPDATE May 2020:
Tik Tok has been collecting children’s data without their consent and it promised to change that.
Tik Tok promised to make changes like gaining parental permission before collecting data and not storing data of children below the age of 13 years old.
Tik Tok Parental Control UPDATE 2020:
Family Pairing (2020)
You can now link your teen’s Tik Tok account to yours.
There are a set of tools that enables you to control what your teens can or cannot view.
Let’s go through some of them.
1. Tik Tok Online App Family Safety Mode
Your child will firstly assign you as a parent which then gives you remote control over their Tik Tok access.
Under this setting you can set time limits and also exclude inappropriate content and who can send messages to your child.
The best thing about this feature is that you can do all this from your mobile phone. Hence, you know your child is always going to be protected.
To switch this on go to Settings > Digital Wellbeing > Family Safe Mode.
2. Decide what your child can or cannot search on Tik Tok
Decide whether your teen can search for content, users, hashtags, or sounds
3. Tik Tok Restricted Mode
This is one of the most important settings if your child is using Tik Tok.
Using restricted mode you can limit the content that appears on your child’s account.
I must warn that this setting is not perfect and sometimes inappropriate content can always slip through. Nonetheless, it is good to have this switched on.
You can even set a passcode to prevent your child from changing this setting later on.
You’ll find this in Settings > Digital Wellbeing > Screen Time Management
3. Tik Tok App Screen Time Management
You can limit the amount of time your child spends on TikTok each day.
Go into Settings > Digital Wellbeing > Screen Time Management.
You can set time limits after which point your child will be cut off for the rest of the day.
You can even set a passcode to prevent your child from changing this setting in the future.
4. Don’t allow interactions
In Privacy and Safety > Safety, you can prevent other users from interacting with your child.
At the moment this setting is set on Everyone by default but can be changed to Friends or Off.
It is also a good idea to activate comment filters so your kids can’s see any dodgy messages.
Now, you can also decide who can comment on your child’s video.
Tik Tok UPDATE 2019:
- ByteDance the Chinese owners of Tik Tok have been fined $5.7 Million US dollar by the U.S Federal Trade Commission for not complying with the Privacy Protection law COPPA.
- Tik Tok fails to obtain parental consent for users under the age of 13.
- TikTok collected people’s data including names, emails, phone numbers, biographies, and photos of children under 13 (all of which by default is public access).
- The formal FTC complaint included reports of adults contacting children through the app.
- Tik Tok also failed to respond to parents request to delete videos of kids who are underage.
- More recently, India has requested for Tik Tok online to be removed from the Apple and Google Play store as it could expose children to pornographic content, sexual predators and cyberbullying.
psst, don’t forget to :Download the THE GROWTH MINDSET KIT helping children to stay calm, confident and grounded even when growing up around social media.
TikTok has launched six safety videos in 2019:
- It shows users how to report inappropriate content,
- limit screen time on the app,
- control who can comment on their videos ,
- allow restriction mode,
- control who can message your child
- How to be respectful on the app
Do keep in mind, wherever kids hang out there is always a chance of predators being around.
Protect Young Eyes reported about a young girl who posted a video of her lip syncing on Tik Tok and within few hours, she got a message from a man with a video of himself masturbating to her video ( the young girl kept her profile to public)
You can check the Growth Mindset Kit designed to raise confident kids growing up with tech
AGE RESTRICTION ON TIK TOK APP:
Tik Tok requires users to be at least 13 years old to access its platform.
Under the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Ireland has now set the Digital Age of Consent to 16 years old. Anyone under the age of 16 years old cannot access this platform.
Common Sense Media has recommended that this app is appropriate for those aged at least 16 years old and above due to its mature content and information settings.
IS TIK TOK SAFE FOR CHILDREN?
- When signing up on Tik Tok, user profiles are made ‘public’ by default. This means anyone can view videos that your children upload, send direct messages to them and access their location information.
- Popular Tik Tok uploads emphasize today’s top music which means that some of the lyrics may contain swearing and sexual content that is not appropriate for children.
- Some of the music videos have mature content that feature revealing outfits and inappropriate dance moves.
- A report by ABC news found that the messaging feature in the app could enable strangers to send direct messages to children. A father of a 7-year-old girl warned that a predator contacted his daughter through this app.
WHY KIDS LIKE TIK TOK APP:
- The videos are very short, 15 seconds in length. It encourages users to be creative with the content they share.
- It is a mix of singing and acting which can be a lot of fun. Many parents have used Tik Tok to connect with their kids using technology by lip-synching together.
- It encourages users to be silly and fun and not to take everything online too seriously.
- The comment box does remind users to “say something nice”.
PROTECTING CHILDREN ON TIK TOK:
- Ensure that settings are set to ‘private’ so only people whom you and your child know can contact and view their videos.
- Let your kids know to NEVER share their QR Code (in the user’s profile) with strangers.
- Turn off the location service in the app.
- If your tween wants to use this app, ensure that an adult is supervising the usage. Use music videos that you are familiar with or you would normally listen to anyway.
- Monitor your child’s account and ensure that they are following accounts that you think are appropriate for their age group.
- There are in-app purchases. Users can buy coins which are being shared with other users to encourage creativity. If your family has an iPhone switch off the “in-app purchases” in the Restrictions.
Here are a few steps to keep your kids safe on Tik Tok:
Tik Tok Privacy Setting:
Tik Tok collects information about its users.
This is a brief summary on what is stated in its Privacy Page:
- Information provided to us : age, gender, address, email address, social media log in, telephone number, credit card information
- If you link to other social networks, you will allow Tik Tok to access that information including your contact lists.
- They collect information on your IP address and location-related data including your browsing history
- Tik Tok also collects information on how you use the service. Ex, your comments and video that you upload
- Your phone and Facebook contacts.
- Metadata uploaded with each video.
Tik Tok Conclusion – Is It Safe For Your Child?
Protect Young Eyes have some serious concerns about the safety of this app.
According to COPPA your child should be at least 13 years old to use this app. However, be cautious when allowing your child on it.
Keep in mind some of the risks stated above.
Common Sense Media recommends your child should be at least 16 years old before being allowed on this app.
In my opinion, if you want to allow your 13-year-old on this app you need to monitor their account closely and let them know that you will be following them and checking their app. This is to ensure they are not exposed to some of the dangers that can be found in the app.
Remember that any social media platform can be a source of cyberbullying and a ground for sexual predators.
Tik Tok, like any other app, can present such dangers to your child. Always monitor their account and speak to them regularly about what they do or read online.
Keeping kids safe on Tik Tok – Monitoring Tool
If your child decides to use Tik Tok and is on any social media site then use monitoring tools like Bark to monitor their online activities. Bark will alert parents when kids have viewed something inappropriate.
You can start a 14-day FREE trial today.
Before you go, don’t forget to check out the growth-mindset kit you can use at home or in the classroom.
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This blog previously appeared on the Family Online Safety Institute’s website.