TikTok is currently the hottest social media site for tweens and teens.
But should we be worried as parents? What is all the fuss about?
TikTok has certainly grown in popularity, especially during the lockdown. Many mums (and dads) have been turning to TikTok more than any other app during this time, as it “makes the quarantine a little more bearable.” They have even been creating some great memories and bonding experiences together.
“On Instagram Stories people are sharing a lot of articles, same with Twitter. And there’s no problem with that because we all need to be educated,” Cameron Rogers, a full-time content creator in the health and wellness space, explains to Yahoo Lifestyle.
“But at some point, we also just need that break, and I think that’s what TikTok is serving for everyone.”
What is TikTok you ask?
TikTok is an app made for creating and sharing short 15-second video content for people to watch.
Is TikTok safe for children?
The minimum age for users to have an account is 13. But like any social app that is really not enforced very strictly.
Common Sense Media recommends that children don’t use TikTok until 16, but if they do, those under 13 be should supervised. One way to do that is to share an account with a child, using a parent’s name and email, so they can control access and privacy settings.
- Entertaining. There is an endless stream of entertaining content on TikTok, it is bound to spark an interest for the whole family
- Sparks creativity. Kids who are interested in making their own videos have access to a world of creative inspiration, not to mention hundreds of songs and filters to choose from.
- FREE! Since there are no upfront costs, parents can explore the app prior to making a decision about whether or not it’s appropriate for their kids.
- Making connections. TikTok is considered to be a social network because it offers great potential for making new friends and forming new connections. This platform has millions of users worldwide, so it can also be great for inclusiveness.
- Helping families bond. During lockdown it has been a great activity to get all the family together and do a dance challenge. Even grandma has been getting in on the act.
- Exposure to uncensored content. One of the main features of TikTok is the endless scrolling through recommended videos, this makes it very easy for kids to accidentally be exposed to content that wasn’t intended for them.
- Dangerous behaviours. Viral “challenges” are big on TikTok. These can encourage dangerous behaviour— “eye bleach challenge“.
- Negative impact. It’s easy to see how TikTok can contribute to harmful popularity contests among children. Social validation in the form of collecting views, likes, comments, and shares can have a negative impact on kids’ and teens’ self-esteem.
Concerns kids are watching TikTok over TV shows
According to research kids as young as six are spending more time watching online videos like YouTube and TikTok more than they watch TV!
The experts are concerned that kids today are missing out on the ‘incidental’ learning that comes with watching educational TV programs – like ABC Kids.
They need a bit of Play School in their lives still!
Manage your child’s settings in the app
One of the most important things you can do as a parent is take control of your child’s social apps via their settings.
While in the TikTok app and from your child’s profile, you’ll see three dots in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
- Click on the dots to access ‘Privacy and settings’
- Scroll down to the ‘Privacy and safety’ option under “Account,” you will see the option to set the child’s account to private (recommended to toggle that on), as well as allow others to find them (recommended to toggle that off)
- Also, under the “Safety” section of that same screen, you have the ability to customize who can post comments, who can Duet with your child, who can react to their videos, who can send them messages, and who can view videos they liked, she says.
- You can choose from “Everyone,” “Friends,” and “Off.”
Try it yourself!
Laura Bedrossian, vice president & social strategy at integrated marketing communications agency Hot Paper Lantern, says you should always be familiar with the platform your child is using.
“If your kid is on any social media platform, make sure you as a parent or guardian have some understanding of it. Download the app yourself and see what it’s all about so you can answer questions or even ask your child about what they’re seeing on an app. Keep an open and honest discussion about their digital literacy and footprint.”
TikTok Data breach 2021
A 12-year-old girl is suing TikTok because it has been found to be using children’s data unlawfully.
The young girl believes that ”the app collects and processes children’s data to power its video-recommendation algorithm, to capture viewers’ attention and generate advertising revenue”, BBC News.
This is not the first time the app is facing legal actions due to misuse of data.
In 2019, TikTok was fined $5.7m (£4.2m) by the US Federal Trade Commission for its handling of children’s data.
TikTok families to follow for family-friendly content
Joe Mele, whose TikTok username is MmmJoeMele, often shares hilarious videos with his serious and seemingly unwilling dad.
the Kabs Family, also featured on YouTube and Instagram, will entertain with their funny videos and life updates.
The Fullmer family share their family’s ways of creating lasting memories together. Kelsi and Caleb Fullmer have four kids and together, they make TikTok videos centered around different trends or challenges.
Choung and his daughter, Baby Mavis, create tons of videos documenting her growth as she gets older and learns new things with him.
The TateAndFamily account is about older kids partaking in funny family pranks and different challenges on the app.
The Sharpes are like a modern-day Partridge Family, but they’re a real family and not part of a TV show. The entire family has talent and they have even released their first official family album.
Be warned! It’s a time waster. Just a word of warning, once you go down the TikTok wormhole you may not emerge until 2022. Time flies in the blink of an eye when you get engrossed in so many hilarious videos. Don’t blame us if you miss your child’s next birthday or graduation ceremony!