The Online Safety Toolkit:
The TikTok Edition – Parental Settings
Tik Tok’s meteoric rise to the most popular mobile app ever has left many concerned and feeling unprepared to guide their kids to safe and healthy usage. As is the norm, the app has also been slow to prioritize child safety. Thankfully, there are some new features and resources that begin closing safety loopholes.
The New Safety Center:
Tik Tok’s Safety Resources and Guides live within the Safety Center, where you can find valuable guides for issues ranging from misinformation, to bullying, to our focus of preventing child sexual abuse.
On the Preventing child sexual abuse on Tik Tok page there are links and steps to reporting the presence of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), as well as links for those who have seen or sought out such materials.
The Guardian’s Guide is a good starting point for parents and caregivers to understand the risks and how “Family Pairing” works.
The Specifics of Safety Settings
But most important are the Safety and Privacy Controls, which are of 3 types:
Account Settings include privacy and public visibility and discoverability. Accounts for people under 16 default to private, while over 16 defaults to public. Account settings also include:
- Discoverability: Decide whether an account is public or private and whether it will be suggested to other users*
- Personalized ads
- Download your data
- Family Pairing
Community Controls are the core of the safety settings, allowing to:
- Set who can view a video
- Set whether anyone, friends only, or no one can send direct messages*
- Set who can comment on content (under age 16 can have friends or no one; over 16 can have friends, no one, or everyone able to comment)*
- Apply comment filters through automatic detection or setting specific keywords
- Block an account
- Set whether people can see what videos a user has liked*
- Set whether your videos can be downloaded
- Set whether others can use “Stitch” and “Duet” features, which are only available to users over 16.
Content Controls determine what can be viewed and accessed, such as:
- Restricted Mode to prevent content that may be inappropriate*
- Screen Time Management limiting usage and requiring a code to override*
- Search function – determine whether or not use can search for videos*
*These settings can be determined by a parent using “Family Pairing”
NOTE: Family Pairing only applies to the Tik Tok App, meaning if a teen uses the desktop or mobile website, only settings applied to those browsers or devices will apply. Like many apps, this is a significant loophole.
For a convenient video overview to set up Family sharing, watch below. Or visit this page for written step-by-step instructions.
Tik Tok Live Streaming Age Changes
Tik Tok interface and design changes have far-reaching impact. In addition to new safety tools, Tik Tok will soon take steps toward safer live-streaming videos.
In a move to existing risks to children, Tik Tok is making two big changes to their live streaming (LIVE) feature, which has seen growing popularity.
- Current rule: Livestreaming is restricted to users with 1,000 followers or more and who are 16 and older.
- New rule beginning Nov. 23rd: Livestreaming is restricted to only users 18 and older.
- Adults-Only content: Tik Tok will allow creators to tag content that is better for viewers 18 and up. According to the announcement, adult content will still not allow nudity, pornography, or any content that violates the existing rules. The adults-only distinction is intended for comedy or content that may not be appropriate for minors, but is not sexually explicit or violent (i.e. adult humor).
Many safety features hinge on accounts being set to the accurate age. Making sure your kids devices and apps have their accurate age is crucial to utilizing what safety features do exist, even while it is not fully sufficient.