Chances are that if your Generation Z kids aren’t sniping each other on Fortnite, they’re on TikTok. As of October 2018, the cheerful video-making app had been installed 800 million times – and that figure doesn’t even include Chinese Android users. In short, TikTok is a big deal. But, as always with the internet, some TikTok users are nicer than others. So, just in case, here’s how to make TikTok safer for kids and give yourself peace of mind.
However, before we begin, it’s worth actually understanding what TikTok is and does. Luckily, our very own Barry Collins has put together a handy short guide.
How to make TikTok safer for kids
As you’d expect from a huge social media platform, TikTok has a few ready-built tools to keep the nasties at bay, whilst still allowing youngsters to have fun with the app. If you can wrench the phone from your kid’s hand (big “if”), here’s what you can do.
TikTok sets profiles to public by default, but changing the setting is easy. First, open the app and go to the profile page (the silhouette icon in the bottom-right of the screen).
Once you’re in the profile page, tap the menu button (three horizontal lines) in the top-right of the screen and select the “Privacy and Safety” option. The following page will appear:
Toggle the button next to “Private Account” to make sure that only approved users can view your kid’s videos from now on. If that’s too restrictive, there are other steps you can take to have a safer public account…
If you want to stay public, it’s worth changing who can post comments on, react to and even duet with your child’s videos. Most importantly, you can control who can send them direct messages.
All of these options are underneath the Safety subheading further down the Privacy and Safety page mentioned above. To tweak a setting, tap on, say, “Who Can Post Comments” and change it to either Everyone, Friends or Off.
Once that’s done, you can modify the other options one by one.
This useful tool blocks potentially inappropriate content to, in the words of TikTok, “better protect minors”. If your young children use the app on a regular basis, it’s a must.
To enable it, go to the profile and, once again, click on the menu button in the top-right of the screen. However, this time select Digital Wellbeing from the list that appears.
Tap on Restricted Mode and read through the paragraph that pops up. It explains that you’ll need to set a password so your kids can’t simply turn Restricted Mode off when you’re not looking.
Tap the red Enable Restricted Mode button and enter a numeric password, before pressing next.
If everything worked, a “Restricted Mode” banner will appear at the top of the TikTok homepage. It may cause your kid some embarrassment, but it’s worth doing just in case.
Hopefully you won’t need to do this, but if someone is pestering your child on TikTok, it’s very easy to block them. Simply head to their profile by tapping their username and select the menu icon in the top-right of the screen.
Tap the Block option and, if need be, also report them to TikTok by, wait for it, pressing Report.
Screen time management
Okay, this isn’t strictly a safety tip, but it will come in handy if your young’un has a fully fledged TikTok addiction. To limit the amount of time they can spend on the app, go the the profile page, select the menu button in the top-right and tap Digital Wellbeing.
Choose Screen Time Management, choose a time limit (40, 60, 90 or 120 minutes per day), press “Enable Screen Time Management” and set a numeric password (this will be the same as the one for Restricted Mode) that you can keep away from prying eyes.