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A Parents' Guide to TikTok

13th December 2019

By Christie Sinclair
Student Protection Officer
Townsville Catholic Education

There are over 5 billion mobiles users in the world with new apps being created every minute. Last year, 194 billion apps were downloaded so it’s only normal to scratch your head and try and figure out the latest app obsession.

I’m sure that most parents have heard of TikTok, yet another app your children are obsessed with. But with so many to keep track of, do you know what TikTok is all about?

What is TikTok?

TIKTOK is a social network built around creating, sharing, and searching for user-created music videos. Users can upload videos of themselves singing, lip-syncing, dancing, or performing some kind of stunt. Users can livestream themselves and interact directly with online audiences via chat.

Users can set their videos to private or share them publicly. If shared publicly, videos can be viewed, commented upon, or remixed by other users. An in-app store lets users purchase in-app currency that can be used to buy digital "gift" icons for their favourite live streamers.

What is the minimum age for TikTok?

13 is the minimum age according to TikTok’s terms and conditions.

Is TikTok appropriate for kids?

Be mindful this app is all about popular music and lyrics often contain swearing and sexual references. Parents have reported they have found explicit sexual content and content referencing self-harm.

Tips for parents on keeping their child safe online:

The idea behind this musical social network is great, but teens should adjust the privacy settings before using. When you first sign up, your account is public by default, so make sure you turn on all privacy settings for accounts kids are using. This means you can either opt for a private account or change the settings for comments, duets, reactions and messages to “Friends” instead of “Everyone”.

How to make your TikTok account private?
> Go your profile page
> select the three-dot icon in the top right corner
> select Privacy and Safety
> there, toggle the switch for ‘Private Account’

You can set the account to Restricted Mode, however there is no way to filter our content on TikTok, so parents are encouraged to share an account with your kids so you can keep an eye on what your child is viewing and posting.

Like all games and social networks, it is certainly imperative parents do their homework if they are going to allow their child on apps that are generally not recommended for their age. That means finding out all you can on how to set it up safely, recognising the risks and having the appropriate and ongoing conversations with your child.

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