TIKTOK is a video-based social media application most popular with children under 16. But negative headlines have many asking what it is and what it does. In this article, we will tell you about What is TikTok and is TikTok Appropriate for Kids? Let’s begin!
Despite TikTok being one of the world’s most downloaded phone apps. Many have branded it a “magnet for pedophiles”, prompting a new investigation into the software and its uses.
As one of the most popular social media platforms, TikTok raises some questions regarding how safe or appropriate it is for the younger population. The platform has well over 100 million users, so the amount and variety of content are really outstanding.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a Chinese video and music-based social media app. That allows users to create and share short videos with special effects. It was the world’s second most downloaded app in the third quarter of 2019, with an estimated 176 million downloads. Jokes, clips, and footage dominate the platform, along with memes and videos in which youngsters, some scantily clad, lip-sync and dance to popular music.
It is a video-only interface, which makes it less elaborate, less detailed, and much easier to use than platforms like Facebook or Twitter. The popular social network application is most popular among children under 16.
Weirdly enough, the app has a 12+ age rating on both Google Play and the App Store. However, this rating is just a guideline. In reality, anyone can install and start using the app, as there are not any age verification systems.
Because of this, TikTok may not be the most appropriate app for kids, because there’s no telling what they can see.
Kids Allowed to Use TikTok?
Officially, the TikTok application requires that users be at least 13 years old to access it. The age limit brings the app in line with other social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and also Snapchat. All with a minimum age limit of 13. Rules say that anyone under the age of 18 must have the approval of a parent or guardian
But a BBC Trending investigation came across various accounts run by children under 13. Along with some as young as nine years old. The report also found the video-sharing app fail to remove online predators who were sending sexual messages to teenagers and children as well. Over three months, the investigation collected hundreds of sexual comments posted on videos uploaded by teenagers and children.
However, the company deleted the majority of these comments. The users who posted them were able to remain on the platform. Despite TikTok’s own rules against sexual content directed at children. The BBC was also able to identify a number of users who, again and again, approached teenage girls online. In order to post sexually explicit messages on their videos.
All the comments found by the BBC were reported to TikTok using the same tools available to any user of the app.
User Content Restrictions
TikTok has a strict policy that forbids nudity and NSFW content. But in this day and age, what do we consider NSFW? How tight is this policy exactly?
Not as strict as you think. While it’s true that there’s no nudity on TikTok, users can create and upload plenty of adult-oriented content.
There are some limitations to what TikTokers can show in their videos. But, there is no language filter. So, kids can get exposed to cussing, inflammatory or derogatory language, and other harmful types of behavior.
Why is TikTok controversial? | TikTok Appropriate for Kids
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham recently launched a probe over concerns predatory adults that can freely message children on the app. She said that while one in five Brits online is kids, tech giants and online gaming companies have failed to do enough to protect them.
The data expert said: “We know that the internet, games, websites, and social media companies were not designed with kids in mind. And yet 20 percent of the users of the internet in the UK are children. “And the kids are not alright. We need to focus on the kids.”
John Carr, one of the UK’s leading experts on child online safety, warned of the controversial app: There’s no question an application like this is a magnet for pedophiles. TikTok bosses have already been fined £4.3million for collecting data on United States kids that includes their names, locations, and email addresses.
A TikTok spokesman said Promoting a safe and positive application environment is our top priority, and we have a number of measures in place to protect against its misuse. Such as, users can make their accounts private, which lets them approve or reject followers and restricts their uploaded content and incoming messages to followers only. We also deploy a combination of policies, technologies, and moderation strategies to detect and review problematic content and accounts, and we implement appropriate penalties if our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines are violated.
This is an industry-wide challenge, and we are commit ourselves to continuously enhancing our existing measures. And introducing additional technical and moderation processes as part of our ongoing commitment to our users.
Behavioral Impact | TikTok Appropriate for Kids
Kids get ideas from everywhere and everyone around them. Once they see something new, they will likely want to try that at home. So if you think about it, even too much funny content may not be appropriate for kids. There are lots of users that pull pranks on TikTok. It might not take a kid too long before attempting to replicate something dangerous.
Some famous TikTok users may also talk about, or show, body and also gender transformation videos. While there may not be anything wrong with that, it is understandable that not all parents would want their kids exposed to that at an early age.
Parental Control | TikTok Appropriate for Kids
Many social media applications and user-generated content sharing platforms offer some form of parental controls. But, in the case of TikTok, this feature is somewhat underwhelming. The mode is called Restricted Mode. When enabled, this feature filters out some of the more mature content and keeps it from appearing in the results. That said, the filtering algorithm is not too impressive, and it won’t guarantee a truly PG experience all the time.
There is also an option called Screen Time Management. It will allow you to set a time limit for your kid between 40 minutes and two hours. But, having less exposure per session is still exposure. You can only limit the amount of time your kid can spend on the app with this feature.
That said, neither option is infallible. Also, note that your kid can easily modify the settings if they have the passcode.
Prevent your Kid to Use TikTok | TikTok Appropriate for Kids
Short of taking away their smartphone, there is not much else you can do. Even in countries where TikTok is banned, users still find ways to install and download the app.
It is available on multiple third-party websites and can install on both Android and iOS devices. Perhaps the best way to keep your kid from spending too much time on TikTok is to explain why the platform can be a bad influence at their age.
Also, remember that even though the minimum recommended user age is 12 years. Kids at that age are hardly in a position to discern between good and bad behavior. Until it provides better content filtering, TikTok will remain an inappropriate platform for kids.
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