WHAT IS TIKTOK?
TikTok—originally Musical.ly—owned by Chinese company Bytedance experienced a 180% growth during COVID-19. Originally used mostly to create short dance, lip-sync, comedy and talent videos, today there are all sorts of video on TikTok. Some young people are using it to advocate for issues and causes and others are participating in TikTok Challenges! Available in over 150 countries, TikTok has over 1 billion users, and has been downloaded over 175 million times in the United States alone. Be sure to see: TikTok and Online Safety: What Parents Should Know.
Users must be at least 13 years old to open an account. However, TikTok doesn’t use any age verification tools when new users sign up. That means, if your child signs up for a new account without your knowledge, they’ll have access to all content without restriction.
While much of the content on TikTok is harmless and fun, there is a lot of inappropriate content on the app. Not all videos are PG and many songs have explicit lyrics.
Previously, all TikTok accounts defaulted to a “public” setting no matter the age of the user, leaving your child open to DM’s and interactions from strangers. Now, TikTok accounts for users aged 13-15 will default to “private.” Also, videos created by users under 16 years of age are restricted by default for download unless the settings are changed.
Even if a user has a private account, they can watch any other video and follow others with public accounts.
The app allows for private information to be easily shared both inside and outside the app (and encourages users to link to other social platforms). Many young children who don't know better share phone numbers and other personal info within the app.
TikTok has excellent safety feature called Family Pairing! To enable it: Go to your Profile page > Tap on three dots icon at the top right corner > Tap on Digital Wellbeing > Tap on Family Pairing. TikTok will ask, “Who is using this TikTok account?”. There will be two options 'Parent' and 'Teen'. Select Parent and tap on 'Continue'.
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