Is TikTok safe for children? Six safety settings to help keep your child safe

A recent report by Ofcom highlighted that over half of 3-17-year-olds are using TikTok. Here’s everything you need to know about the popular video-sharing app.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a video-sharing platform where you can watch and create videos, and livestream. The app has an age-rating of 13+.

Users can browse different videos on TikTok via a personalised feed known as the ‘For You Page’. You can also search for content using topics or hashtags.

How does the TikTok algorithm work?

The platform uses algorithms to show users different video content based on their interests and other videos they watch. This means that not everyone’s ‘For You Page’ is the same.

Sometimes platforms also test out different types of content with similar themes to see how we interact, so it knows what to show us in the future.

What types of videos are on TikTok?

Anyone with an account can upload a video to the platform. This means that there’s a whole range of videos that feature different topics, challenges or ideas. Some might include:

  • dancing or lip-synching
  • clips from TV shows or films
  • sports
  • comedy sketches or funny videos
  • recipes
  • fitness
  • news or world events.

Is TikTok safe for children?

TikTok can be a creative outlet for young people as it allows them to learn about video editing and discover new interests.

However, it can be easy for children and young people to come across inappropriate content on the app.

Because TikTok uses algorithms to show users new content, it’s easy for young people to come across inappropriate or upsetting videos. The platform also has communication features that allow users to privately message each other which could put your child at risk of being contacted by someone they don’t know.

Make sure your child signs up to TikTok with the correct age

All accounts created by 13-16-year-olds are set to private by default. They also have restricted access to direct messages and livestreaming. However, you should still review the settings to ensure they’ve been set up correctly.

Ask your child to give you a demo of the app or show you their favourite account. You could even suggest creating a video together, like filming yourself taking part in a dance challenge. This can be a great way to show an interest in what your child is doing but also will help you talk to them about some of the risks and the different privacy settings available.

Kate Edwards, Online Safety Expert

How to keep your child safe on TikTok using safety settings

There are six security settings that can help you to keep TikTok safe for your child and prevent them seeing anything that might worry or upset them:

  1. Family Pairing 
    This allows you to connect your child’s account with your own. It gives you access to parental controls to help manage who they can speak to and how long they can spend on the app.

  2. Private account
    Setting your child’s account to private means that only approved followers will be able to watch their videos.

  3. Restricted mode
    This feature helps to filter out videos that may contain inappropriate or adult topics and stop them appearing on your child’s 'For You Page'.

  4. Comment filters
    Enable to manage who can comment on your child’s videos and stop inappropriate comments from appearing on their feed.

  5. Direct messages
    This can help them manage who can contact them privately on the app. You can choose who can send them direct messages by selecting ‘Friends only’ or ‘No one’.

  6. Daily screen time
    This setting allows you manage how long your child can spend on the app. You can set a daily time limit, and once it’s up you’ll need to enter a passcode to keep using the platform.

Explore TikTok’s Guardian Guide for more information.

Worried about a child?

Contact our Helpline by calling 0808 800 5000 or emailing [email protected].

Children can contact Childline any time to get support themselves.

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