TikTok is a social video-sharing application. It enables users to create, edit and share 60-second videos with filters, special effects and music. Like other social media platforms, TikTok allows users to comment, like and follow any content they come across on the app. TikTok is available for both Android and iOS operating systems and can be downloaded respectively on the app stores. TikTok is the new kid on the block and with over 1 billion users as of December 2019, it looks like it is here to stay.

Who can use the TikTok app? 

TikTok has a large user following of people less than 25 years of age. According to their terms and conditions, anyone between the ages of 13 and older can sign up as a user. It is believed that the reason why the app appeals to young people is the fact that it is a platform that allows the opportunity of being creative.

The youth can also build a community surrounding their passion by gaining followers and in this way they can also mingle or rather connect with people that have similar interest to them. TikTok also allows users to cross-post content created on the app to other social media platforms – this allows the user to have their content shared with many more people thus growing their social media following exponentially.  

Is the TikTok app safe? 

Like all social media apps there are pros and cons connected, and as the saying goes “too much of a good thing is a bad thing”, TikTok is no exception to the rule.

Parents have expressed their concerns over the safety of the app. Many feel that the language used by other users might not be appropriate for their under-aged children. Also, because posts on TikTok can be viewed by anyone whether they’re signed up or not, parents fear online stalking.

According to many reviews put up by parents on Common Sense Media, many complained that there are hashtags on some of the videos that contain pornographic content which is obviously very inappropriate for children/teens. 

Added to the above, users can like or respond to a video, follow an account or send direct messages to each other. This holds a risk that strangers will have the option to directly contact youngsters on the application.  

Because children can sometimes get high up on the bubble of gaining more followers and likes, they might then be tempted to accept invites from strangers. It is imperative that all parents make sure that their children understand all of the dangers of using the app and how they can avoid danger and remain safe. 

TikTok app safety measures 

In December 2019 TikTok launched a new in-app feature: The Family Safety Mode.

The sole purpose of this feature is to assist parents in making sure that their children are safe while using the app. The Family Safety Mode permits:

  • the parent to connect their TikTok app to up to three children to oversee screen time,
  • turn on limited mode which restricts kids from viewing content that might be inappropriate,
  • afford parents and guardians the ability to set up limitations on who can engage on their kids content. (For instance, the parent can allow or choose not to allow comments on videos that their children post)

Also, within the TikTok app settings, you can block followers by simply selecting the follower that you want to remove from your list of followers the then click the “block” button. Like with most social media apps TikTok also allows its users to report content that does not follow the TikTok community guidelines.  

Ultimately, it is up to parents to properly investigate social media apps and make an informed decision with their children on usage and online safety / responsibility.

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