My 11-year old daughter has started high school this year and got a phone for Christmas. We’ve just found out she has TikTok and Snapchat accounts. I don’t want to be a prude and I know she wants to interact with her friends but is TikTok safe for kids?
One of our MoM members has reached out to the MoM community after she found out her daughter secretly had a TikTok account on her phone:
“I’m devastated to find this out. The worst thing is the secrecy, made worse when we found in her search history “how to hide apps on iPhone”. I do understand her need to interact with her friends even more so now with social distancing but I just don’t know how best to deal with this. Is TikTok safe for kids? I’m hoping you Mum’s may be able to recommend from personal experience any suitable apps where kids can share videos, pictures etc safely.”
So what exactly is this TikTok?
TikTok is a free social media app that lets users watch, create, and share videos, most often of people lip-synching to popular music hit songs. The app was originally known as musical.ly. Users are able to upload their own videos where they sing, dance, lip-synch or talk and the can also browse and interact with content uploaded by other users.
But Is TikTok Safe For Kids?
Our mums have come to the rescue and made some really good suggestions:
Take Away The Phone
Many mums suggested that the mum just take away access to the smart phone.
“Take phone away and swap for one that can only text and call. You can still buy them,” suggested one mum.
“I’d take the phone. If she can’t be honest and use it responsibly, she is not ready for it,” said another.
Embrace It! Don’t Fight It!
Another mum said parents shouldn’t fight against it but rather understand it better:
“The Apps aren’t bad, the issue is with how they are used. Instead of trying to control the situation maybe try and learn together. I would explain why you have concerns about her using these apps and how she has broken your trust. Discuss how there may need to be some limitations now regarding the phone usage until that trust has grown. I would be using a family link App or similar so she needs permission to download new apps. I would also start using the same apps as she is. Create some TikToks together, send each other snaps. The more you can talk and connect and understand her and her world for communicating the more she will feel that she can come to you if something online makes her uncomfortable.”
Another mum agreed:
“Let her have them.. but make the rule that when you ask to see her phone she hands it to you.”
“It’s tough being the only one out of all your friends that’s not allowed TikTok or instagram etc. They’re all on it. I would say instead of just outright banning it, have rules in place. Ask for all passwords for her accounts, follow her on TikTok or insta so you can see her posts & set limits. Like no phone at bed time etc.
“Kids are always going to find a way to do what you don’t want them to do – especially if all their friends are doing it. You’re better off just negotiating and agreeing on terms that you’re both happy with.”
Big TikTok Fans
This mum is a big fan of TikTok:
“My daughters both have social media and have since they were 8 or 9. They are open and honest with me, I follow them And monitor it. Win win. Tiktok is a fabulous app BTW. The things my girls do with that amaze me. My little one does dances all day on that thing and she is happy, creative, fit and healthy.
Keep an open mind instead of an old fashion view point of just saying no for no good reason. Social media is not dangerous if monitored and used as intended.”
Share An Account
Many mums suggest that you should log into your child’s account from your own phone:
“I have a daughter the same age. And she is allowed TikTok and instagram. Condition is – I am logged in to her account on my phone too so I can see every message etc. There has been a couple of slightly questionable things which I have seen, but both times my daughter came to me asking what to do. You can’t hide them from it forever, but you can teach them how to be sensible with it.”
Another mum agrees:
“My 10 year old has a TikToK account on her phone and I have her account on my ipad as well so everything she does and everyone she speaks to comes up in my ipad. She is perfectly fine with this and I find its easier to police cause I have constant access.”
One mum suggested putting more stricter restrictions on using the phone:
“Put restrictions on times of access, eg. She only has access between 8am and 4pm on school days. Then check phone history every day. Once you start to see some maturity and trust then increase the freedom.”
Angela suggested that you make sure you implement strict restrictions on the app:
“I learnt that I can set it up so that everything also goes to my phone. If she can’t show me how she knows a person on her friends list I remove them. I also discovered you can limit words, for example I removed all words for a person’s private areas, nobody can tell her she is sexy as that word is removed. Basically I removed any words I felt a predator or anyone else could try use to entice her. She still gets her friends’ comments. Just the ones inappropriate have been removed.”
Keep A Close Check
One mum said parents should allow their kids to have these apps but should just keep a close check on usage.
“I spend a couple minutes going through her Snapchat, Messages and TikTok every couple of days to ensure nothing inappropriate is being said/done etc. I have very open conversations with my daughter about how she must talk to me if someone, even a friend, were to send her something inappropriate and I 100% trust her.”
A few mums suggested setting up ‘Family Link’ so you have to authorise the Apps she wants to install.
Forget About Other Apps
A mum has said it probably won’t work encouraging her to use alternative social apps:
“You could try those other apps but unless her friends are on them as well they will be no use as Snapchat and TikTok is how kids communicate these days. You just need to chat to her about your expectations with her behaviour online and friend her on them to keep an eye out for anything inappropriate.”
Set Up A Phone Usage Contract
One mum said she would set up a ‘phone contract’ with her child:
“Set boundaries only use the phone in the lounge room, limit times to be on it and do not let it be in the room especially at bed time. Make a contract with rules and punishment if rules are broken eg no phone for a week etc. Both parents and your daughter to sit down write the contract all sign it and stand by it. It’s so dangerous and nudes is something kids are being pressured to do. Never let her be alone with it especially in the bathroom or bedroom. They are vulnerable and rules need to be set and in place. Trust me I know I have been through it and it’s not nice.”
What the experts have to say
TikTok requires that users be at least 13 years old to use the app and anyone under 18 must have approval of a parent or guardian. However there are still plenty of younger tweenie users.
Commonsense Media suggests:
“If your younger kid or tween wants to use the app, the account should belong to an adult who can monitor what younger users are browsing and sharing. There’s also the section of the app mentioned above that’s meant for kids under 13 that restricts access to mature content and comments, but since entering a false birthdate is easy, it’s still best for older teens.”
In addition, you need make sure you make your child’s TikTok account private. You can also use the app’s Digital Wellbeing features to help limit time spent on the app and limit the appearance of inappropriate videos. Parents should also share an account with kids under the age of 13. This will let you keep an eye on what your kid is viewing and posting.
Is TikTok safe for kids? Tell us what you think in the comments below.