How to help keep your child or teenager safe on TikTok

Sophie Hamilton

if you a parent an older one child or teenageryou most likely got questions from your son or daughter about downloading TikTok.

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The video sharing app was first released in 2016 and offers a variety of short videos created by its users – ranging from dances to pranks, stunts, jokes to general entertainment clips.

What’s the problem you might think? Well, many parents worry that either their child is using the app when they are underage or that they are watching material that is inappropriate for their age. It can be really difficult to keep track of what your child or teen is seeing on their device.

HELLO! spoke to Alexandra Evans, Director of Safety Public Policy for Europe at TikTok, for her advice on how to keep our kids safe on the app.

Tips to stay safe on TikTok

HELLO!: Hello Alexandra, can you tell us what the age restriction is on TikTok?

Alexandra: To have a TikTok account, you must be 13 or older, and once a child turns 13, the final decision on when and how a teen uses TikTok is usually made jointly between parents and teens.

Our job is to ensure that when a teen joins our community, we have tools and guidelines in place to ensure they have a safe and positive experience.

HELLO!: What are your tips for monitoring your teen’s TikTok account?

Alexandra: With our Family Pairing feature, parents can set the parameters of how their teen uses TikTok, including how much time they spend on TikTok each day.

But my number one tip is that talking is key. If your teen feels they can turn to you when they encounter an issue online that is of great importance to their wellbeing and safety online.

We know it can be quite overwhelming for parents to keep up with evolving trends or to talk to their teens about online safety. To help with that, we spoke to teenagers about the insights and advice they would appreciate from adults in their lives when it comes to supporting them online.

The tips are available on the Guardian’s Guide section of our Safety Center, as well as our family linking feature. They include:

  • Help me understand the rules
  • Be available to chat
  • Don’t panic if something goes wrong
  • trust me
  • respect my privacy

HELLO!: What should a teen do if they’re being bullied on TikTok or victim of social media trolls?

Alexandra: Bullying and harassment have absolutely no place on TikTok as outlined in our Community Guidelinesand we will remove any content that violates these rules.

If a teenager is being bullied, we first recommend that they report the account so our team can investigate. We want teens to feel safe on the platform and to make sure parents have peace of mind too, so we have a range of features aimed at tackling bullying and harassment.

Generally speaking, we’ve introduced a feature that allows our community to limit who comments on their videos, with those under the age of 16 only being able to receive comments from friends. We’ve also added the ability to delete or report multiple comments at once, and accounts that post bullying or other negative comments can be banned in bulk.

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HELLO!: Parents are concerned their teens are talking to adults they don’t know on social media – how can we stop this?

Alexandra: As a parent, I understand how worrying this can be and we want to reassure parents. We have made sure that people under the age of 16 cannot send or receive Direct Messages. all accounts aged 13-15 are set to private by default; and our family linking feature allows parents and guardians to control settings like search and direct messaging for 16-17 year olds.

Additionally, direct messaging is disabled by default for ages 16-17, and users, regardless of age, cannot message anyone unless that person has actively chosen to follow them. All users can also restrict who comments on their videos.

HELLO!: There’s a concern that if a teen “likes” or re-watches an inappropriate video and then sees more on the subject on their “For You” page – how to stop that?

Alexandra: What I personally love about TikTok is that it’s a place where people find things that inspire their creativity and videos they love. It’s important to us that users enjoy the variety our platform has to offer, and we want to make sure the discovery experience reflects that.

That’s why we’re testing ways to avoid recommending a bunch of similar content to avoid showing too much of one category of content that can be fine as a single video but is problematic when viewed in clusters .

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