Remember musical.ly and live.ly? The latest Real Short Videos free social media app for sharing user-generated music videos is TikTok where users can create and upload videos, remix others’ work, or browse content created by other users and by famous recording artists….from a smartphone. What’s different is that there’s a separate section of the app for users under 13 which only lets users view curated videos: They can’t comment, search, or post their own videos, and their data isn’t collected. Because access to that area of the app only requires the user to enter a birthdate, it’s common practice for pre-teens to lie about their age, the app is still recommended for older teens.
More than 100 million users can watch and record videos of themselves lip-syncing, dancing or singing to their favourite songs and they can connect with their friends by posting comments and ‘likes.’ As with any social networking service the account is public by default which means anyone can view the videos, send direct messages or access location information. It’s important that privacy settings be activated so only people they or a parent knows can interact with the videos or messages on the app. Adult supervision of a private account minimises potential risks and harms.
As popular music is freely available it is highly likely that explicit language and sexual content will be present in the songs. Common Sense Media’s review explains that ‘As of August 2018, a Digital Well-Being setting allows parents to set two-hour screen time limits with the app (locked with a password), and a new Restricted Mode (also password-protected) can help filter out inappropriate content.’ The rebranded app focuses on viral “challenges,” creative tools, and just-plain-fun features which kids find very appealing.
Parents are encouraged to read TikTok safety tips are offered by Common Sense Media which include:
Make sure tweens use their real age to create an account. If you’re going to allow your tweens to join TikTok, insist that they register with their actual birth date but remember that access to that area of the app only requires the user to enter a birth date — and there’s nothing to prevent older users from joining as an under-13-year-old.
The following settings are located in the Privacy and Settings section. To get there, go to your kid’s profile page and click the three-dot icon (“…”) on the top right.
Make your kid’s account private. TikTok accounts are public by default, meaning anyone can see your videos, send you direct messages, and post comments. Help kids turn on privacy settings so only people they know can interact with their videos or message them on the app.
Limit comments. TikTok comments can be inappropriate. Restrict the audience that can post comments on kids’ videos to Friends only — or turn them off entirely.
Limit time and inappropriate content. TikTok offers features to help limit kids’ time on the app as well as videos that may be inappropriate. You can protect these settings with a passcode so kids can’t change them back.
Delete TikTok. Unlike other apps, TikTok has a few steps to follow to delete your account. You have to input a special code before you can disable it. [Read the Review for further details about how to do this].