Widely known as having one of the most powerful algorithms among the popular social media platforms, TikTok features short-form videos curated to each user’s interests and an “endless scroll” capability.
This dangerous combination causes users to open the app an average of eight times each day, spending over forty-five minutes on TikTok daily.
But beyond its disturbing distractibility, TikTok has formerly been under fire for data security breaches and child pornography hidden in plain sight.
These TikTok safety concerns are enough to make anyone apprehensive to use the app. Is TikTok safe? Is TikTok safe for kids? Let’s find out!
What Is TikTok?
TikTok, previously known as the Musical.ly app, was launched back in 2018. It quickly rose through the social media ranks—particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic—and hit a milestone of one billion monthly users by September 2021.
TikTok users can create and watch videos between fifteen seconds and three minutes long. Widely used for entertainment, TikTok features innumerable content niches from fashion to home improvement to comedy to politics.
There’s something for everyone on TikTok!
Is TikTok Safe for Kids?
In theory, TikTok sounds like a fun space for kids to explore their hobbies and interests. In reality, more than two-thirds of TikTok users are adults. That means the content your child could run into is more than likely not appropriate for children.
Here are some of parents’ top concerns with TikTok:
TikTok’s algorithm is specifically engineered to satisfy the user. Based on what the user has watched, liked, and shared with others—as well as the accounts they follow and the posts they interact with most—the algorithm tracks that information. The algorithm then uses that information to show users what they want to see, keeping them on the app as long as possible.
This technology is problematic for two reasons. First, because it requires tracking the online activity of your kids. And second, because it manipulates that information to keep your kids hooked on the app.
(And the developers behind this algorithm are 100% aware of that.)
When it comes to cyberbullying on social media, TikTok is no exception. Hurtful comments, mean messages, and other forms of harassment can—and do—happen in every corner of TikTok.
The anonymity that often comes with the screen can cause people to act in ways they normally wouldn’t. That’s why cyberbullying is such a prevalent problem for today’s kids!
With safe smartphones like Troomi’s, parents can prevent their children from experiencing cyberbullying. Troomi phones feature SafeListing™ for contacts and websites, text message monitoring, and no social media! We make it easier than ever to keep an eye on your kid’s tech activities, ensuring their safety every step of the way.
TikTok collects data from every user on the app. This data includes technical information such as your location, IP address, mobile phone provider, and online browsing history.
This data can also include more personal information like your age, email address, phone number, other social media accounts, and interests.
With most users being adults, there’s a sea of sexual content on TikTok. From sexual innuendos to full-blown nudity, TikTok isn’t a place for kids. In fact, thanks to big-name reporters like Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, it’s becoming clearer that TikTok is “a magnet for sexual predators.”
But it doesn’t stop there. TikTok is also home to explicit language and music, dark humor, drug paraphernalia, and other harmful content that isn’t intended for young audiences.
Can You Childproof TikTok?
You can’t protect your child from all of the inappropriate content they could encounter on TikTok, but there are steps you can take to minimize their chances of running into it.
- Make their account private.
A private TikTok account means your child’s content cannot be seen by strangers. Your child’s content can only be seen by their followers, who must request permission to follow your child. The only things strangers can see are your child’s username, profile, and profile picture.
- Enable restricted mode.
For younger users, the TikTok restricted mode allows them to make and watch videos. However, they cannot share any videos they make or send messages on the app. Instead, any videos they make will be saved to their device.
- Take advantage of family pairing.
The TikTok family pairing option puts control back into parents’ hands. Parents can control what their children can see on TikTok, as well as set watch-time limits.
- Shut out the strangers.
TikTok has a feature that prevents strangers from finding your child’s account. When this feature is enabled, your child’s account will not be suggested to unknown users. You can also limit—or disable completely—who can download your child’s videos or send them messages.
- Remind your child not to share personal information online.
As with any social media platform or Internet forum, it’s important your child knows to keep their personal information private. Details like their birthday, address, phone number, and other identifying information should not be shared online.
Back in January of 2021, TikTok implemented changes to make their app safer for younger users:
- Users younger than 18 are automatically assigned a private account.
- Users 17 and younger do not receive notifications from the app after 10:00 PM.
- Users younger than 16 cannot use certain features, like the “duet” and “stitch” features. Users between 16 and 17 can only use those features with friends.
- No one can download videos posted by users younger than 16.
- Users between 13 and 15 can only receive comments on their videos from friends. Their accounts will not be suggested to others, either.
- Users can turn off the ability for others to leave comments on their videos.
- A fact-checking feature will remove harmful content based on false information.
Can you childproof TikTok? To some degree, yes. But ultimately, there’s no guarantee your child won’t come across inappropriate content—even with precautions put in place.If you’re concerned about your child’s safety on social media apps like TikTok, Troomi phones are the solution. With no social media apps to download, your child stays safe from the harm those apps can cause. Click here to learn more about Troomi phones and how they can benefit your child—and your whole family!