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How To Make TikTok A Much Safer Application For Your Kids And Tweens

How To Make TikTok A Much Safer Application For Your Kids And Tweens
Image by @cottonbro / Pexels

If you are a parent to a child between the ages of 9 and 12, you might notice how preoccupied they usually are with creating and editing videos, which they then upload to TikTok. In truth, even younger kids are using the app too.

TikTok is a free application that is very popular especially among young people as it brings together two of their favorite things: music and social media.

Previously, individuals used TikTok to create lip sync and dance cover videos to share with friends. Eventually the content has evolved to 15- or 30-seconder dance videos, which usually go viral on social media.  

Because of its popularity, the app has enticed kids to imitate some of the content, which they do out of curiosity and to garner Likes. Some of these are the “blackout challenge,” where the person chokes himself until he passes out, and the “silhouette challenge” where a red filter supposedly covers the body parts of a subject while she dances provocatively. It was later discovered that with a little manipulation, the red filter can be removed, exposing the subject’s body. Needless to say, doing these challenges could lead to danger and humiliation.      

According to Alwell Mulsid, an Information Technology Officer and founder of PH Cyber Units, “There is always a risk when you use any app. Think of [it as] an infected app with vulnerabilities, or an app that has an unknown security bug or glitches that eventually will be discovered and exploited by a malicious [element].

“Since TikTok is a social media network that has a community feature, online predators can also register and use the platform to find or harass kids,” he adds.

What do kids get out of this kind of content?

While others are happy creating content that showcase their natural talent, creativity and wit, there are also those who are into challenging trends and pranks to gain more followers.

“With more followers, ‘Tiktokers’ can be considered ‘influencers’ [and] once they have this status, they can promote brands and earn [from it] as well,” shares Alwell.

What is really the age requirement for TikTok?

As stated in the official website of TikTok, “The full TikTok experience is intended for users age 13 and over. If you learn that your child under the age of 13 has registered for a 13+ TikTok account, contact us at: https://www.tiktok.com/legal/report/privacy. We will promptly take appropriate action.”

Alwell suggests that parents or guardians supervise their kids closely, as they play an important role in regulating their kids’ use of the app. They should help set up their kids’ account properly to prevent them from giving wrong information, such as fake birthdates.

“Some businesses heavily rely on User's Data. With that, they collect and utilize this data because knowing their users or visitors will help them strategize and improve their marketing and communication campaigns. It will also help them understand potential consumers and make more informed business decisions,” he explains.

What can you do as parent to protect your child from inappropriate content?

Change the settings to private.

Like other social media platforms, switching your child’s TikTok account to private will allow her to screen follow requests, in order to limit the users who can view and watch her content.

How to do it: On your kid’s profile, click the triple dot on the upper right corner, go to ‘Privacy’ and turn on the ‘Private Account’ button.

Restrict video duets, stitches, messages, and comments.

Another feature of the application is that is allows other users to interact with your video even without your permission, such as with song duets. You can, however, choose your audience: It can be ‘Everyone,’ ‘Friends,’ or you can just turn it off.

How to do it: On your kid’s profile, click the triple dot on the upper right corner, go to ‘Privacy’ and scroll down to the safety section. From there, you’ll get to see different features such as ‘Who can send you direct messages,’ ‘Who can duet your videos,’ etc.

Teach your child to unfollow, block and report users who violate the guidelines.

This should be communicated to your kids, so that they could act accordingly even without your guidance whenever they encounter inappropriate content and malicious comments.

How to do it: To report malicious comments on their videos, tap and hold on the comment, choose ‘Report’ and select a reason.

When they see inappropriate and offensive videos on their TikTok feed, teach them to click the arrow on the lower right side of the screen, located below the comments. Select ‘Report’ and choose a reason accordingly. Then, follow it up by reporting or blocking the account by clicking the triple dot on the user’s profile.

Enable restricted mode.

One good thing about TikTok that you might not be familiar with is that it allows you to set screen time and limit the appearance of inappropriate content. You can also set a password, so no one can turn it off in the future.

How to do it: On your kid’s profile, click the triple dots, choose ‘Digital Wellbeing,’ and start setting up the restrictions and your preferred screen time.

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