It wouldn’t be wrong to say that TikTok has managed to become the world’s most famous and loved social media application, especially for tweens and teens today. The application is free of cost and provides a platform to its users for creating, watching, and sharing their own personal short videos with other such users globally. The application managed to gain so much popularity that it ranked as the second most installed app in both Apple store and Google store in 2019. Today, TikTok is used widely by all age groups but the tweens and teens are the most attractive audience of this app.
What does TikTok offer to its users and why are kids attracted to it?
TikTok offers its users a creative platform where they act out on tracks of all kinds. These tracks include comedy, intense and musical ones of famous songs from around the world. With lip-syncing and dancing, tiktokers from around the world are able to come up with creative short videos with various kinds of effects and transitions.
Kids are mostly attracted to this application due to the fact that the application offers them a platform to showcase their acting, stunts, and dancing abilities in ways they prefer the most. The kids consider themselves as lip-syncing and dancing stars as they play around with the popular songs and tracks available on the application. They then share their content with other users and feel appreciated through comments and likes on their videos.
How can TikTok be harmful to kids?
TikTok may be a well-known and creative social media application but has managed to be harmful when it comes to kids or tweens using it. Just like any other social media, some of the content available on the social media application is too explicit for children. Moreover, the content available on the site does not have disclaimers regarding the specific age group that is mature enough to watch the video. In other words, Parental guidance (PG) disclaimers are not available and since kids have easy access to the application (also because it’s free of cost) they can just view anything they want to. Not only this, but the application has also been used as a source to sexually target kids by such predators. Cyberbullying is also easily possible on TikTok.
Not to forget, the application often has dangerous challenges circulating that involve stunts which can cause a child some serious physical or mental issues. For instance, a challenge known as the ‘Skull Breaker challenge’ caused many children to get hospitalized. The application is also highly addictive and hence can result in more screen time for a child.
What steps can be taken to minimize the dangers for kids?
If a parent is not willing to completely block the application out for their child or teen, there are a few steps that parents can take to save their kids from the harmful aspects of the application. However, there is not a 100% guarantee that it will completely block all the negative aspects we just looked around but it would help to a high extent. The TikTok application itself has some inbuilt settings that contain parental controls in order to limit exposure via the application for kids. Below are some key controls parents can activate on their child’s device or gadget.
1. Set Time Limits
The first step a parent can take in order to limit their kid’s usage is that they can set a time limit for their child to make videos or move around TikTok. This can be done easily by going into the Digital WellBeing section of the settings of the application. Screen Time Management can be found there where the parent can adjust the limit up to 2 hours accordingly.
2. Set Age Limits
To begin with, the application itself states in their terms and conditions how it’s only available to those who are 13 and older hence tweens should not be given access. Not only this, but the application itself advises how those who are 16 and above in age are suitable users for the application as explicit content may be found on TikTok as well.
In case a parent feels their child can get access to the application, they can easily set a control on the child’s device. This would block the child from installing any such application that has a certain age limit placed on it.
3. Make the Account of the child private
A child may be willing to show his or her creativity through the content they make to the entire world however that isn’t suitable until or unless the child reaches the age of an adult. When the application is installed the default setting for each account is public which means anyone around the world can view the content shared. To get rid of this issue, one can just do a few clicks and make the account private.
This option is present in the safety and privacy section of the account settings. Once, the account is made private only those can view the content shared by the account who are approved by the account holder themselves.
4. Turn on the Restricted Mode
If the account is used by a child, it would be advisable to activate the restricted mode so that it helps filter out content that is too mature or explicit for the child. However, this gives no guarantee that they wouldn’t be any inappropriate content at all but it does help limit it to some extent. To activate this mode the user can tap on the Restricted Mode present under the tab of Digital Wellbeing.
Even though these parental controls can be beneficial in limiting access to explicit content for kids, it is likely that kids and tweens will manage to get rid of it one day or another. That means, even after parents manage to activate these controls, they must remain vigilant as to what their kid is doing on the application. The best way to counter such situations is to explain to the kids about the consequences they can face if they use the platform carelessly.