Social media app TikTok is clearly one of the great winners of the Coronavirus lockdowns (together with Netflix bingewatching, Amazon ordering and Peloton biking among others). That is also not too surprising as during quarantine we all look for entertainment on the internet.
The most popular activity turns out to be the dances and viral challenges that are trending on TikTok. Children in particular are having fun with the app, which makes their parents wonder: is it safe?
The global lockdown is giving the popularity of the Chinese app Tiktok a serious boost. Just like other social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, TikTok has already been downloaded two billion times by now.
Teenagers in particular love the video app: more than half of the users are between 16 and 24 years old. Yet TikTok allows children from 13 years old and even videos of even younger children pop up from time to time. So parents are left to wonder: how dangerous is that?
On TikTok, young people and children record videos in which they dance, sing, mimic or make other people laugh. The videos can last a maximum of 1 minute. Tiktok was founded in 2017 and then merged with the similar app Musical.ly.
This gave the app a lot of popularity. For many, the video app is a nice place to stay creative. Because the editing and sharing of the videos is quite simple, it is also highly popular among young children.
As with any social media app, it remains important for parents to keep an eye on what their children can see and do on TikTok. Most of the content on the app is harmless, but TikTok also has a dark side where inappropriate content and bad intentions roam free. For example, children may encounter inappropriate language or images or even be bullied through the app.
Furthermore, an investigation at the beginning of this year showed that the supervision of what the children see is not up to date.
So-called “content specialists” monitor the videos that appear on the platform from different places in the world. They must ensure that no pornographic, political or violent messages appear on the app. But according to the employees, this is not a priority: the workload is high, the rules are vague and change every second.
In addition, the guidelines were devised in China and poorly translated in Europe. All this ensures that lures and racist expressions find their way into the app, while LGBTQ + and political activists are gagged.
How do you make the app more secure?
Meanwhile, there are ways to make TikTok safer for your children. For example, you can adjust various privacy settings by clicking the three horizontal buttons on the right of the profile and selecting “privacy and security”.
For example, you can make your child’s account private to begin with. That way, users have to ask permission to see the account. Secondly, you can even stop the account from being recommended to strangers. However, as most kids strive for multiple followers, they probably won’t like this.
In addition, you can avoid having your child’s videos downloaded by someone and it is possible to control who can send your children a message.
However, since TikTok has no secrets for many children, they can easily adjust this setting again. Even if your child isn’t allowed to sit on TikTok or any other app, the path to social media is still open through friends or family. That is why it is important to talk to your child about social media. This way you make them aware of the consequences and dangers.