So, you’ve got teens in the house, and they’re obsessed with two things: Ital Pizza Thick’A and TikTok! But what is this app that has taken the world’s youth by storm? We’ve all probably seen one and didn’t even know it. TikTok is an app that allows its users to create and upload short-form videos (up to 60 seconds) to the platform for the world to enjoy. The videos are usually quirky and fun, with the app gaining traction in the teen market since its global launch in 2018. The content usually consists of dance videos, educational content, lip-synching, comedy and celebrity cameos. Nothing too serious. No wonder it’s a hit with the younger crowd. TikTok Challenges are particularly popular and are similar to the “ALS ice bucket challenge” that took over Facebook a couple of years ago. The app itself is nothing sinister. The makers have invested quite a bit of time and effort to ensure their users are safe and enjoy the platform as it was intended. However, like any social media apps, there are a few points parents should bear in mind when allowing their children to use the app. So, take a break from your chores and dreaming up simple dinner ideas (just look at the TastyMoments recipes page) to find out what you need to consider before you allow them to press “download”.
Remember – All Accounts Are Public by Default
Yep, the app’s default settings allow any content to be viewed publicly. You can change this in the user settings to make the account private and allow approved viewers or friends in your child’s network to view the content. There are two risks involved with making all content public. The first being that is it enables strangers to view and “chat” with your children. And the second is that if your child posts controversial content, it will likely remain in the public domain forever. Our advice? Teach your kids that the “stranger danger rule” also applies to the virtual world. If any strangers contact and engage with your child in an inappropriate way, make sure your kids know to block them immediately. When it comes to ensuring that they create “safe” content, remind them of the billboard rule. It’s simple – if you’re not happy with the content being shown on a billboard next to your house for the rest of your life, then don’t put it on ANY social media platforms. A recent negative outburst from an American teen was seen on Snapchat and reported to the school by her peers. She’s since been expelled by the school, and the case is now at the US Supreme Court since she made the video outside of school hours (it’s a freedom of speech concern). She was angry that she didn’t earn a spot on her sports team and made an expletive-ridden video in anger. Now it has cost her her future at her school and possibly will affect her career in future as this will remain a black mark next to her name forever.
There’s An Age Restriction
TikTok users must be 13 years or older to download the app. However, many parents download it on behalf of their younger children. TikTok is like any media channel and may show videos that use profanity or mature content. Please activate the “restricted mode” setting to ensure that adult content is filtered out and your child is served age-appropriate content. Then, lock the setting with a passcode. According to CommonSenseMedia.org, it’s ideal to set up “Family Pairing” so you can manage the above settings, plus additional safety and privacy measures. To do this, first, download TikTok onto your phone and create an account. Then, make sure you have your kid’s phone and their TikTok login handy.
Finally – you can help restrict their screen time on the app. It can be set for a maximum of 2 hours a day and can go down to 40 minutes a day. If you’re enabling this setting on your child’s phone, don’t forget to choose a passcode to lock the setting.
Enjoy seeing the fantastic content they create! Who knows, you may have the next big TikTok star sitting in your living room. Just ensure they’re safe while they explore their creativity.
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