Tik Tok is a social media platform allowing users to create and share videos. It was formally known as Musical.ly. It is popular among teenagers and young children as they like to create lip sync and dance videos to their favourite music. These can be recorded and shared publicly or streamed live in real time to strangers. Other users can then directly message those in the videos either privately or in a live chat while they are performing.
According to Tik Tok, the minimum age is 13 though they have no controls in place to check users. CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) rates it at 16+.
What do Parents need to know?
As it is a social media platform, Tik Tok encourages users to share and connect with other people, this can be people users do not know. There is no filter on the content that is shared so inappropriate lyrics, sexually explicit videos and ‘dares’ are all shared for anyone to see. Anybody who is a user on Tik Tok can also contact anybody else and send direct messages.
These types of social media environments consistently create a desire amongst young children to be liked and wanted and feel that the number of ‘followers’ is an indication of popularity. Due to this, children often are encouraged to do more dares or take part in videos that are inappropriate for their age in an attempt to gain more followers, putting themselves at risk in the process.
It has been known for young people to be stalked through the Tik Tok platform due to the some of the information they innocently give away while performing in their videos. This can be their location, likes and dislikes or the school they go to by school uniform being visible.
As Tik Tok can now be integrated with other social media sites, it is easier for users to be found by others through other social media accounts.
What can Parents do?
Consider the access to content, inappropriate or otherwise, that your child will have open access to on Tik Tok and whether you would be happy for them to access it.
If your child has friends over and is sharing videos on Tik Tok with them, consider whether their friends have permission from their parents or carers to post their videos online before doing so.
Show children how to block users that they do not wish to be following them – details on how are avilable on the Tik Tok website:
Discuss oversharing – get children thinking about what they are intending to share and whether they will be happy for that to be online forever and bee seen by anyone at anytime in the future.
Think about how children can unintentionally give away information about themselves such as their location, school or interests that can be something for criminals to exploit.
Secure your child’s account so that videos are private and review this regularly to ensure changes to the Tik Tok platform do not leave your child’s account vulnerable.
Further helpful information has been published by National Online Safety here: