With the number of social networks available today, it’s understandable you might be worried about your child using TikTok. You might feel even more concerned when you look through their history and see the types of content they’re exposed to on the app. You may be asking yourself, ‘is TikTok safe?’.
While TikTok can be used for educational and entertainment purposes, is TikTok really safe for kids to use?
As TikTok has become more popular, there are serious concerns regarding the app’s use by young people. It’s important for parents to ensure their kids’ privacy in TikTok, just like any other social network.
Kids might post impulsively since they can share movies without first reviewing or changing them. Additionally, the app has been reported to be used by online predators to target younger users, a complaint has been filed with the FTC against TikTok for violating children’s privacy laws, and the corporation may have taken advantage of major technological vulnerabilities. Some officials in the US even think TikTok may be an issue of national security.
Although TikTok has stirred criticism when used responsibly and safely, adolescent and teenage students can benefit from its creative aspect (as can parents).
So, let’s find out more about TikTok and how safe it is for kids. This article will help you better understand how TikTok works, how TikTok data is protected, and how you can use TikTok safely.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a free social networking app that allows you to make, share, and watch short videos. The app is well-known for viral dances and celebrity cameos, and it is a creative and entertaining platform for people of all ages to enjoy.
The app is currently accessible in 75 languages and has over 1 billion active users with nearly 89.4 million users in the US only.
TikTok (previously Musical.ly) is most popular among those under the age of 16. It has also surpassed Instagram as the most downloaded app in of 2022.
How does TikTok work?
Many applications and social networks allow users to follow, like, and comment on other users’ videos. Emojis can be sent by teens to their favourite singers using TikTok.
Video creators may choose a piece of music to mime along to while they record their videos. Alternatively, the user can record their video, add music, and even add a voiceover to it. In addition to slow-motion, time-lapse, and rapid-forward options, the application includes filters, effects, and even the ability to play music backward.
Once users are satisfied with the video they created, they can share it with their followers and others through social media like Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. You may also utilise the duet option to connect with another user.
Users can use the search option to find additional videos. Users may also find content under hot hashtags on the ‘For You’ tab. Through the use of the same hashtag, viewers can check out popular content and add their own videos to that trend.
TikTok periodically provides theme challenges, such as #Lipsncychallenge and #Comedychallenge, which encourages users to create videos around that specific topic.
TikTok and Your Privacy
When you use applications like TikTok, you contribute information that is collected and may be made public in the future. Here’s a brief list of what it may include:
- Contact information and email addresses.
- Your IP address, which may reveal your geographical location.
- Close-up shots of your face. This can provide biometric data that can be connected to other images of you that are not within the app.
What Data Does TikTok Collect?
TikTok, like other big social media companies, consumes a large amount of user data. To begin, TikTok collects names, ages, phone numbers, and emails from users who join up on the site. Users’ approximate geolocation and mobile device identifiers, such as IP addresses, are also known to the app.
The most important information may come from how users engage with the video-sharing program. With a powerful recommendation system, TikTok predicts people’s interests based on the videos or accounts they’ve liked or followed in the past. It is remarked that these findings are beneficial for advertising and, presumably, for distributing political ideas.
According to TikTok, keystroke patterns, for example, may be utilised purely for anti-fraud and spam reasons. TikTok stated that while editing features may automatically pinpoint a person’s face to apply an effect, they do not individually identify individuals.
Does TikTok Share Data With Others?
With so much data on its users, it’s logical to question how TikTok utilises what it knows and if it distributes any information with other parties. TikTok utilises user data to better its services in general, such as its recommendation system, although the corporation admits to exchanging data with other parties.
TikTok has its own advertisers, law enforcement, business partners, service providers, payment providers, and analytics providers with which they can share some data for good purposes. But concerns have certainly been raised about just how TikTok shares it’s data, and who else has access to it.
The data-sharing procedures of TikTok may appear concerning, but this is nearly always the case with social media sites. Instagram, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and all other social media platforms use identical data collection and sharing procedures.
Is TikTok safe for kids?
To utilise the TikTok app, users must be at least 13 years old. This age limitation is consistent with other social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, which all have a 13-year-old minimum age limit.
If you are younger than 18 years of age and you wish to use TikTok, you must obtain the permission of a parent or guardian before using the app. When setting up the app, make sure your youngster enters their true age rather than a false one that makes them appear older than they are (which could expose them to unsuitable content).
There are a number of issues parents might encounter with their kids TikTok, including:
Explicit content: Video and music are the main features of the app, and it may expose youngsters to adult content (like vulgar lyrics and provocative clothing/choreography).
Can use the app without login: When you first download and use the application, the profile is public by default and can be used without signing up. Any user can see the posts and contents of the video creators without signing up and logging in to the application. They also can make videos without logging in.
Message from strangers: Someone who isn’t familiar with your child’s account can send them a private message, so if they keep their account public, they might receive messages from strangers.
Should You Let Your Kids Use TikTok?
Alternatively, if your tween or younger child wants to use the app, there is a section specifically for them that has extra safety and privacy protections. Watching selected, clean videos is the only activity children are allowed in, and they are not permitted to comment, search for, or upload their own videos.
It is not ideal, however, since the lack of these features makes it uninteresting to most children, and getting around that area is as simple as supplying a fake birthday. Only the United States has access to this area. After Musical.ly, the company that predated TikTok, settled with the FTC for violation of child privacy laws in 2019, the second generation of the app was launched in 2019.
To ensure your child’s safety, discuss the significance of these safety settings with your kid. Unfortunately, once established, these options are simple to deactivate. Make sure you speak with your child and monitor their app usage on a regular basis.
To just monitor the available material, you may want to download the TikTok app and create an account. If you find something that is not acceptable, please report it. You may also want to follow your child’s TikTok account to see what they’re up to.
How to Stay Safe On TikTok?
If you want to protect yourself or your children when using the TikTok app, you should consider several options under Privacy and Safety.
To get started, tap the three-dot symbol in the upper right corner of your TikTok profile, and select Settings and Privacy.
Enable Digital Well-Being
The digital well-being feature helps the user to limit the time of using TikTok, filter inappropriate content in their feed, view screen time on the daily usage of TikTok, and screen time dashboard.
To set up digital wellbeing: Go to Settings and Privacy > Scroll down to Digital Wellbeing > Enable the features you want to add on.
Make the account private
TikTok users can choose to make their accounts private. This implies that the stuff you post on the account is only visible to people you voluntarily interact with on the app.
You may ensure that none of your TikTok videos are seen by anyone you don’t know by making your account private.
To make the account private: Go to Settings and Privacy > Privacy > Private account > Toggle it ON.
TikTok also lets you specify who may duet or stitch your videos and who can’t. Users under the age of 16 or with a private account cannot download videos, and duets and stitches are set to ‘Friends.’
You can use Restricted Mode if you want more control over the stuff you see. Restricted Mode is an account setting option that restricts content that may not be appropriate for all ages.
Restricted Mode is always deactivated, so if you find yourself missing videos you want to watch, you can disable them at any time. Restricted Mode is another function that a parent or caregiver can enable when Family Pairing is enabled.
Discuss cyberbullying with them
Users can write comments on submitted videos, which may expose your youngster to bad remarks. Giving them advice on what to do if they are cyberbullied or witnessing others being cyberbullied can help them stay secure.
Check out our Tips on Cyberbulling here.
Device Pairing of families
To connect your account with your child’s, press the three dots menu button next to the profile of the user on both devices, then choose Family Pairing and enter the QR code.
If you put any measures in place, be aware that youngsters can always delete and reinstall TikTok and create a new account with a new phone number or email address. Something to consider!
Report inappropriate material
If you believe the content that you have viewed on TikTok is offensive, chances are it is to someone else too. You should report it using TikTok’s reporting mechanisms.
Reporting offensive content is one way community members can help to keep the community safe.
As far as privacy and security are concerned, TikTok is transparent about the information it collects. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that privacy and security laws may change at any time, potentially leaving your data exposed and your device vulnerable to malicious attacks.
TikTok provides some privacy and protection, but it does capture a lot of information about you. Children under the age of 13 have different privacy options than adults, but there are still safety concerns. To help keep your TikTok account safe and secure, you may make it private.
It is advisable to avoid over-trusting and over-sharing with applications that do not prioritise security and privacy from the very beginning.
For more expert advice on keeping your kids safe online, check out our Technology section.