With so many social media apps trending every year, it’s not surprising that parents have a tough time keeping up with their tweens and teens online habits. Let’s be real – parents just don’t have the time to sit there and scroll through videos for hours, but if there’s one thing we know they’re concerned with, it’s if TikTok is safe for their children. The hard work is done for you! Here’s Netsweeper’s rundown of everything you need to know about TikTok, the risks, and how to keep your children safe from predators.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a social networking app that can be downloaded onto any smartphone. This app allows users to create and post 15-60 second videos, while also being able to view, comment, and share short videos from other TikTok users.
TikTok is an entertaining and addictive social media app that has become a popular platform for kids to express themselves and follow their interests. According to Hootsuite, TikTok is the 6th most-used social platform in the world and has over one billion monthly active users. Built-in editing tools, free music and filters makes this app a creative outlet for users to build their confidence.
Wherever children go, predators are bound to follow. As amazing and useful as the internet and social media apps are, there are always risks involved when kids are exposed online, and TikTok is no exception. TikTok is the perfect “hunting ground” for predators, giving them easy access to children where they can be groomed, abused and trafficked.
Let’s give them a little credit. TikTok does have some safety features including a digital wellbeing element and privacy settings. These features allow users to track if they have been using the app for more than two hours and gives them the ability to filter out inappropriate content, while also managing those views, followers and incoming messages.
Although TikTok has made improvements over the years, it’s clear that more needs to be done when protecting minors from exposure to sexual content. According to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, their statement, along with Wall Street Journal’s investigation found that children as young as 13 years old were able to find videos on TikTok promoting OnlyFans, pornography, and prostitution.
What are the Risks?
It’s impossible to keep children in a bubble. The best thing parents can do to keep their children safe is to understand how your kids use TikTok, teach them about potential online dangers, and provide them with the necessary tools that can make their experience online safe.
- Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is a serious issue on TikTok, especially towards users who aren’t deemed as ‘good enough,’ or ‘cringeworthy’. It can be a toxic place where people harass others, leave mean comments and speak with no filter.
- Excessive screen time: Anyone who has spent 5 minutes on this app knows how easy it is to lose track of time. It’s a magnet for kids which can lead to lack of sleep, anxiety, depression and more.
- Spam and malware: Reports indicate that there are software flaws that can expose TikTokers to harmful attacks. Hackers can send legitimate-looking text messages with links to malicious software, make private videos public, and access personal information. At Netsweeper, we provide web filtering platform solutions that prevents cyberattacks and loss of personal data. For more information on how to keep yourself and children safe online, book a demo with one of our solution experts.
As overwhelming as apps can be, in this digital world, parents need to familiarize themselves with them and know what apps their kids love and why. Take the time to understand how the app is used, who your children are communicating with, and start early conversations on the importance of digital safety.