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TikTok: A Guide for Parents

TikTok is the latest social media app obsessing your child. Here’s what you need to know about the possible risks and the steps you can take to keep your child safe.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is an App designed to “capture and present the world’s creativity, knowledge, and moments that matter in everyday life”.
Or, more realistically, it is a social media platform where users can upload silly 15 second videos of themselves dancing and lip-syncing to songs or movie clips.

Its popularity is extremely fast growing, and it was even pronounced one of the most downloaded Apps in 2018, being especially popular amongst younger demographics due to its addictive and interactive nature which never fails to capture a younger audience.

Take a look…

 

 

Positive aspects of the App

Within the ‘global community’ encouraged by the App, TikTok provides a fun and trustworthy way to get creative. I’m sure we can all remember making up dance routines and being silly with our friends – and now the world of Social Media allows us to share these moments with others! In a time where Social Media is becoming more about conformity, it seems a refreshing change to see a platform which encourages imagination and creative expression.

However, like most Social Media platforms, there are certain dangers to look out for …

Whilst the minimum sign-up age of TikTok is set at 13, the risk of inappropriate or mature content is still prevalent within the App, mainly due to the enormous amount of content uploaded daily.

As well as the risk of a child seeing sensitive content that has slipped through the App’s filters, there is also the possibility of interacting with strangers, which puts vulnerable children at risk of bullying or inappropriate exchanges.

On a more personal level, TikTok is also not immune from the spread of false ideals and perfect appearances which can affect the self-image of a developing child. It is not hard to imagine that the constant scrolling through highly edited videos can imprint a false reality into the minds of ordinary users. Frequently seen on Instagram, Social Media often only portrays a fabricated version of a person, causing children (especially younger ones) to believe that this is what they should aspire to.

How TikTok addresses these issues      

You’ll be glad to hear that in regards to these possible dangers, TikTok is not passive in its response or prevention.
By default, accounts created on the App are made public. However, TikTok also gives the option to make accounts private. This can be done by selecting the ‘Privacy and Settings’ option on the top right corner of the screen.

This means videos can still be created and uploaded, but they can only be seen by approved followers and friends.  Furthermore, there is also a ‘restricted mode’ option which aims to filter out any inappropriate content your child might come across while using the App.
If these tools still fail to hide any content you, as a parent, deem unsuitable, there are also options to block or report users so TikTok can take appropriate action and reduce the likelihood of these risks for future use.

In terms of welfare and positivity, TikTok also provide a ‘well-being element’ which alerts users to when they have spent longer than two hours on the App. This seems especially significant in a culture where children are spending more time on their phones rather than sharing these fun interactions with friends and family in real life.

What you can do

As well as utilising the safe-guards put in place directly on the App, there are also several ways to ensure your child has a positive experience using TikTok.

Above all, be aware of your child’s general activity on the App, and who they are connecting with. Why not try downloading the App yourself, and familiarising yourself with the ins and outs of TikTok and why it has captured the attention of so many users globally. This then opens up an opportunity to talk about the videos with your child, and possibly create content together – even if this is too much of an embarrassment for them to share online!

Also be sure to remind your child of their self-worth outside of Social Media, and how the value of ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ is not necessary in terms of personal growth. Communication is key, and raising these topics with your child is always a good starting point for guiding and supporting them to have a positive experience online without becoming the dreaded ‘helicopter parent’.

Find out more! The TikTok website contains a vast amount of information which will put you at ease and turn you into an expert on how to stay safe online.

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