Are you on TikTok? But are your kids? Tonight, at basketball practice, I saw some 6 and 7 year olds making TikToks while waiting for their siblings. Most of those kids could dance way better than me! But should kids be on TikTok? Is TikTok safe for kids? I’ve been heavily studying this app for a while. And after all of my research, I’m ready to give my opinion!
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a social media app that has been downloaded over a billion times. It is the 7th most popular app of the last decade, and not slowing down anytime soon. There are more male users than female users. And 41% of users are between the ages of 16 and 24. It’s parent company is ByteDance, which is a company located in China. ByteDance purchase Musical.ly and Musical.ly essentially became TikTok. Musical.ly was based on lip syncing videos, and this is an essential part of TikTok also. However, TikTok has grown to include much more! But is TikTok safe for kids?
It’s very similar to any other social media app, where you can find whatever content you’re looking for. Instagram has a “Discover” page where you can find new content. And TikTok has the “For You Page” or commonly known as FYP, that serves new content to users. There’s do it yourself tutorials, makeup tips, investing information, and even medical advice. There’s also a lot of inappropriate content and even disturbing content. Read on for more.
Is TikTok safe for kids?
When I first downloaded the app, to be honest, I was totally shocked at what was on this app. It was easy to see why this app has been banned for periods of time in foreign countries because of inappropriate content concerns. Since TikTok doesn’t pull information on you from any other previous profile (depending on how you sign up), it’s a completely blank slate. Before I started liking or following anything at all, I assume I was just getting the random content that the app thought any user would like. More than half, and maybe closer to three fourths of the content was totally inappropriate and R rated. It was shocking!
However, once I started liking, commenting and following the accounts that I loved, like other moms, my For You Page totally changed. I started getting Christian content, homeschooling content, and Disney tips! It seemed to know exactly what I wanted. And that’s the beauty of the algorithms that run these apps. You will see more of what you like, when you tell the app what you like. However, even though I’ve never liked something I would call R rated, videos like this still show up on my FYP. It might just be because there’s just that much adult content on the app.
There are also live streams on TikTok. This content is clearly unpredictable and could not be safe for kids. I wouldn’t watch any live streams with my kids because of the unpredictable nature of the content.
At what age should kids be on TikTok?
The official age restriction on the app is 13 and over. In my own limited research in the past few weeks, it seems that even videos with children who are clearly younger than 13 are not shown as much. Clearly, this isn’t always true because there are some wildly popular videos with millions of likes that have children included. However, TikTok is not meant for children under 13. Not only does the app attempt to restrict this, but it’s a really good idea for parents to uphold this guideline as well. Is TikTok safe for kids of any age?
What about teenagers? That’s a personal choice. I have a 12 year old and a 14 year old. Neither of them have any social media at all. They also don’t have phones. But I know that’s unusual and doesn’t work for every family. Do I have TikTok? Of course! Social media is my job. And I share it with all of my kids quite a bit. We watch videos together. They help me make videos to post. And we attempt to learn dances together! But for me, it’s too much of a responsibility and a risk for my young teens to use the app unsupervised.
Are there any parental controls on TikTok?
There are no parental controls on TikTok exactly. However, you can set your account to private, which is an excellent idea for any child. There’s also a great feature called Digital Wellbeing, which sets limits on the daily screen time limit on the app. Once this time limit is reached, you have to enter a passcode to be able to continue on the app. There’s also a Restricted Mode which blocks certain types of content. It’s certainly not full proof, but attempts to block the most inappropriate content.
There’s rumors that a new Family Safety Mode is coming in 2020. However, as of this writing, this feature is not available in the United States. This feature will connect parents and children’s accounts and give parents the ability to enable Digital Wellbeing features.
Why should you download TikTok?
Social media is my business. This blog is my business. So once I realized TikTok wasn’t going away anytime soon, I figured I better get on board. And when I started playing around with it, I fell in love! It’s definitely addicting, which is something for parents to be wary of as well. But it’s fun, and people aren’t taking themselves too seriously. So far, it’s not as curated and “perfect” as Instagram posts. I’m loving it! My most popular post so far is a #fourgeneration challenge with my daughter, my mom, my grandmother, and myself. It’s been so fun to see everyone’s reactions to our four generations! On that video, I used the #sowholesome hashtag, which helps curate more G rated content.
So why should you download TikTok? It’s a great way to connect with young people in your family, in your neighborhood, or in your life. It’s becoming such a part of culture, there are lots of phrases and sounds that are popular from TikTok. Being active on the app is a great way to stay part of the culture and particularly stay connected to young people. You can also get a window into the world with millions and millions of users around the world.
How about you? Are you on TikTok? Are your kids? What’s your opinion on the question is TikTok safe for kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts. And come join me on TikTok!