If we asked you to name a popular social media platform, you’d probably say Facebook or Instagram. We would say TikTok.
Many parents are probably unfamiliar with the lip-syncing app, but kids know it and love it — in fact, TikTok is beating out Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat. But is TikTok safe for kids to use? If you’re not sure whether your kids should be among the app’s many users, read on for our take on its pros and cons.
What is TikTok?
Once upon a time, kids could download musical.ly, a lip-syncing app that quickly grew to have more than 200 million users. But that was before ByteDance. The Chinese-based company that owns TikTok acquired musical.ly in November 2017 and the two platforms have operated as one international host for short-form mobile videos ever since — the app has a simple, user-friendly concept, which is likely why it exploded in popularity. Think of it as a combination of YouTube, Vine, and Dubsmash.
How does TikTok Work?
TikTok users can record and share 15-second videos in which they lip sync to popular music, show off a dance routine, act alongside their favorite skits, or create remixes using features like slo-mo, emojis, graphics, and filters; there’s also a live-streaming option.
- There is an endless stream of entertaining content on TikTok, from duets and comedy skits to makeup transformations, which can be easily searched for using hashtags. The app is also filled with a ton of fun, colorful, and seasonal graphics.
- 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.
- The app is frenetic in nature. Short videos will play automatically as users scroll through their feeds. And since many of the videos also contain music, it can be loud and disruptive.
- Allowing users to scroll through recommended videos is one of TikTok’s most prominent features. Knowing this, it’s easy to see how kids might be accidentally exposed to content that wasn’t intended for them.
- Viral “challenges” are big on TikTok. These can encourage dangerous behaviour.
What is TikTok going to cost me?
TikTok is free to use and download on a mobile device — all kids need to do is create an account, which requires an email address, phone number, or social media account.
How does TikTok let kids interact with each other?
TikTok encourages users to like, comment and follow—and these social validation metrics can put pressure on kids and sometimes negatively impact their self-esteem.
What are TikTok’s safety features?
Like other social media apps (Roblox, YouTube Kids), TikTok’s user agreement states that the app is for kids age 13 and older; those under the age of 18 must also have parental consent. In addition to these rules, parents can set a few additional safety features, which developers have been working to improve.
Is TikTok for kids?
TikTok wasn’t designed for kids, and the fun and engaging aspects of the app are greatly outweighed by the risks.
TikTok is not intended for children 12 and under. Users can easily connect with others, regardless of whether or not they know each other outside the app, and there are a lot of social validation and vanity metrics involved. Though they are being proactive with some of their features, the platform doesn’t have robust parental control, so parents are well-advised to follow the terms and keep young children off the platform.
Is TikTok safe for 10 year olds?
What age is TikTok recommended for? Common Sense recommends the app for age 15+ mainly due to the privacy issues and mature content. TikTok requires that users be at least 13 years old to use the full TikTok experience, although there is a way for younger kids to access the app.
Is there a kid friendly version of TikTok?
If your younger kid or tween wants to use the app, there's a section of the app for kids under 13 that includes additional safety and privacy features. Kids can only see curated, clean videos, and aren't allowed to comment, search, or post their own videos.
Can you put parental controls on TikTok?
TikTok provides users (or their parents) the ability to filter out more mature content by enabling Restricted Mode.