Social media site TikTok recently announced that it has introduced a new parental control feature called Family Safe Mode. It’s designed to help parents keep their children safe by managing their screen time, limiting who they receive direct messages from and restricting access to inappropriate content.
TikTok is an app that allows users to create and share entertaining short-looping videos, and it’s hugely popular with young people. The app has been downloaded over 800 million times and we can see why it’s taken the world by storm. Sadly, it’s not all puppy videos and dance routines - many young people are exposed to offensive or inappropriate videos on the app, featuring everything from racist language to self-harm content.
So we were delighted when we heard that TikTok were taking steps to make the app a safer space for users. Children often start jumping on the TikTok-ing bandwagon when they’re around eight or nine years old, despite the app’s 13+ age restriction.
How do TikTok’s parental controls work?
To access the parental controls, log into your TikTok account and click on the three dots on the top right hand corner of your screen. This takes you to ‘Privacy and Settings’. Scroll down to ‘Family Pairing’. From here, you can follow instructions to link your TikTok account to your child’s, allowing you to control the following features:
Screen Time Management – this controls how long your child can spend on TikTok each day
Direct Messages – this limits who can send messages to your child’s account and allows you to turn off direct messaging completely
Restricted Mode – this restricts your child from seeing inappropriate content
Do these controls mean budding TikTok-ers won’t see anything they shouldn’t? No, and TikTok is the first to admit it’s not possible to filter out all damaging content or people. Plus, young people are pretty savvy at overriding parental controls. This doesn’t mean parental controls should be overlooked, though - if used in the right way, they can be a fantastic tool for protecting your child from exposure to harmful content.
Our three top digital parenting tips
Set restrictions together
Walk through the app in a balanced way with your child, explaining that you want to keep them safe, happy and healthy online. This should allow you to work through the parental controls together instead of forcing it on them when they’re not fully on board.
Relax restrictions as they get older
It’s important that children can exercise freedom, maintain their privacy and gain their parent’s trust as they get older. You know your child best, so we’d suggest making a judgement on loosening parental controls based on their level of maturity and knowledge around online safety.
No level of parental control will restrict all harmful content, or prevent your child from spending too much time online. Reassure your child that they can talk to you about their online worries without fear of judgement or criticism. This is far more valuable than any restrictions you can put in place.
Take a look at our guide to safety and privacy settings on other social media channels.
This article was written by Digital Awareness UK - a leading digital wellbeing organisation working with schools and organisations in the UK and internationally.