Very popular with college students, the TikTok app is also frequented by sexual predators. The opportunity to make your children aware of the good uses of the Internet.
With over 500 million users worldwide, the TikTok app (formerly Musical.ly) has become a must have for teens. In France, more than half of girls aged 11 to 14 have an account on the social network, according to data collected by the association Génération Numérique. Facing the camera of their smartphone, they dance or sing in playback in a universe halfway between Vine, Snapchat and online karaoke. But they also expose themselves to threats of which they are not necessarily aware.
Like most image-based social networks, TikTok is steeped in a narcissistic culture valuing superficial behavior. The race for “likes” maintains early sexualization young girls who do not hesitate to film themselves in underwear and ultra-makeup to imitate their favorite singers or starlets. And it creates greed among malicious users.
The videographer “Le Roi des Rats” demonstrated on YouTube that the platform is frequented by sexual predators. The latter do not hesitate to leave biased comments under the videos of the young girls or even to contact them directly. These abuses were deemed sufficiently important for the authorities to seize on the subject. The national police recently launched an appeal for vigilance aimed at parents.
Make children aware of the risks of the Internet
Even though children are very comfortable with the Web, parents are encouraged to interact with them to explain the risks to which they are exposed by posting videos and chatting with strangers. “Parents must realize that the Internet is a place open to the world“, Underlines Justine Atlan, director of the association e-Enfance. “In the same way that they are curious to know who will be at the party where their teenager is invited, parents must be vigilant vis-à-vis their digital dating,” says Cyril di Palma, general delegate of Generation Digital.
TikTok launches a Parental Control mode to regulate the activity of the youngest
TikTok will give more possibilities to parents to control the activity of their children on the app.
It is a fundamental subject on the web, and in particular on social networks. What place for children, and how to regulate a potential addiction or toxic use of these spaces? Sometimes the law is directly involved in the debate, such as the law regulating the activity of child influencers. But more and more often, it is the platforms themselves which anticipate by offering tools to take control over their activity or that of their children, such as Google, which recently launched applications to help disconnect. Opportunism or a real desire to help their users, everyone will have their own opinion.
The latest in this niche, TikTok, which has just announced the release of a “Family” mode. This Family Safety Mode should allow parents to ensure an optimal experience for their children on the application, in particular through three main functions:
- Screen time management : you can choose how long the child can spend on the app each day.
- Private messages : Limit who can send them private messages, or remove the possibility of receiving them.
- Restricted mode : choose to limit the types of content that will appear in the feed by removing the possibility of seeing those that are not appropriate.
One way to take the opposite view of many criticisms on the social network, particularly popular among the youngest. For the moment, this Familiy Safety Mode is available in the UK, and will be extended to other countries in the coming weeks.
TikTok implements parental controls to protect its young users
Finally, TikTok allows parents to control their children’s activity on the app.
Teenagers are TikTok’s main target, and it is mainly thanks to them that the platform is enjoying real success today * i. In order to protect them, the Chinese social network has (finally) integrated parental control into its application.
The implementation of various measures to protect users
It is on its blog that TikTok unveiled the various measures put in place to promote the safety of its youngest users. Firstly, the application has a “Family Safety” mode which allows an adult to link their account to that of a teenager in their family. In this way, the parent will be able to remotely control, from their own smartphone and through the TikTok application, several aspects of their child’s account, here they are:
- Screen time management to monitor how much time their teen spends on TikTok each day. Beyond a predefined time (40, 60, 80 minutes), the application is blocked and can no longer be used.
- Control of private messages which allows you to control who is writing to their teenager’s account or to disable messaging altogether.
- Restricted mode that blocks content deemed inappropriate or not suitable for all audiences.
Always in the effort to protect its users, TikTok also now pops up informational messages prompting users to set limits regarding the use of the application. Those who are most fan of the platform will even be invited to take a break and disconnect from the application for a few hours. Of course, these messages will appear as videos which were produced by four emblematic francophone creators of the social network: @whatsupclaire, @theo_diot, @daetienne and @ laury.aucalme.
TikTok, a dangerous social network for teenagers?
TikTok recorded over 614 million downloads in a single year and grew 375% in 2019 in the United States; a success which resulted in a spectacular increase in advertising spending… Between May and November 2019, these were multiplied by 75 compared to the previous year. This success, the Chinese social network owes mainly to teenagers around the world who have taken the platform by storm.
Unfortunately, predators too quickly arrived on the app, thus endangering the safety of younger users. A point raised in depth by YouTuber “THE KING OF RATS” in his video-investigation entitled “The HIDDEN FACE of TikTok (Musical.ly)”.
Also, many studies have shown that social networks in general increase the risk of depression and loneliness; the risks are all the higher when it comes to young people going through the complicated phase of adolescence.
These measures implemented by TikTok are therefore welcome. : thanks to the “Family Safety” mode, parents will be able to identify any predators who might seek to get in touch with their teenagers, and thanks to the informative videos put in place, users of the application will be invited to disconnect from the platform to reconnect with real life, and thus reduce the risks of depression and withdrawal into oneself.
TikTok: how to set up and secure the app to protect your children
TikTok gets bad press. The application itself is not dangerous, but it is used by young people who have no notions of “privacy” or are unaware of the dangers and cochoncities of the Internet. Let’s see how to make the platform a little more secure for you or your children …
You have probably already heard of TikTok, this application that allows you to share very short video clips, most often humorous and / or with music.
Let’s start by saying that TikTok, like all social networks, is banned at least 13 years old. But we know the kids: if Timéo or Coraline has a TikTok account, they’ll want to have one too. No one checks age on these platforms and it is very easy to change a number on a date of birth. If you want to monitor the activity of your children on their mobile, smartphone or tablet (downloaded apps, time spent on each app, Internet search, etc.), we recommend our article on the free and ad-free Family Link solution.
But back to TikTok. Whatever the age of your cherub, you should configure the application as you wish to avoid inappropriate content or contact from strangers.
Different methods depending on age
It can even be a kind of pact between you: “I’ll let you use TikTok if I can do some tweaking”, and talking to your child make them understand why those tweaks are very important to them. Because on TikTok, all accounts are public by default. Anyone can see each other’s videos, but also comment or “like”. To prevent strangers from interacting with your children, there are several solutions. For the youngest, it is even possible to closely monitor the activity with the Family Login.
TikTok: privacy settings
1 / The Family Connection
In TikTok, go to the bottom right and select Me then the three small dots at the top right. By scrolling down you will find the Family Login to associate a Parent account with a Child account via QR code. Just follow the onscreen instructions!
This association serves three things:
– Management of time spent on the application
– Decide who can correspond with your child (but not read messages)
– Censoring the appearance of inappropriate content
2 / Privacy settings
The Family Login works great, but may not be suitable for older children. Just be aware that the latter allows one-sided control while by making changes in the privacy settings, your child will be able to modify them. It’s for you to see. Come back in Settings and privacy and go to the menu Confidentiality. Here you can switch to a private account: only users who are approved by your child can subscribe to their account, see their videos and comment. So you are sure that only her friends will be able to see and interact with her. You just have to make your child aware that it is in his best interest to only accept his friends. If your child’s account is already open, existing subscribers are not impacted and will be considered “friends”.
3 / Who can do what?
Suggest your account to others allows you to be more visible on TikTok, but this is not necessarily what you want for your child who will undoubtedly and above all want to share his creations with his friends. It is possible to create a private account by activating this option, but it is a bit contradictory. It was created in order to take advantage of a public account while remaining discreet. In the game security, you can choose who can direct messages, who can comment on the videos, or who can view the videos your kid liked. It is also possible to prohibit Collages and Duets from your children’s videos. These two types of content allow a user to retrieve your child’s creation to reuse it in their own videos: it is better to set this parameter to Nobody.
4 / Comments filters
The Comments filter lets remove offensive comments, but you know kids and their imaginations. They quickly find ways to find new insults or hide them. It is therefore possible to add keywords to censor their flowery prose. Note that you won’t have to do this by choosing a private account where friends will be handpicked. If one of these “friends” does not turn out to be very friendly, it is always possible to block him …
You want to know more ? TikTok recently published a guide for parents …