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TikTok is not the sound a clock makes



What parents need to know about this popular app

TikTok, music app, kids, safety

Do you know what apps are on your kid’s phone right now? Have you heard them talk up Tik Tok, the music app that has reached over 500 million active users worldwide? It’s so hard to keep up on what your kids are doing online, and on their phone, so we’ve taken the guess work out of it for you. Here are the 6 most important things to know about TikTok, according to Common Sense Media

What is TikTok? 

TikTok is a social network for sharing user-generated videos, mostly of people lip-synching to popular songs. It was originally called musical.ly (pronounced MU-zik-lee). Users can create and upload their own videos where they lip-synch, sing, dance, or just talk. You can also browse and interact with other users' content, which covers a wide range of topics, songs, and styles. These videos can be grouped by hashtags, which often correspond to challenges or memes. 

How safe is TikTok? 

Using any social network can be risky, but it's possible for kids to safely use the app with adult supervision (and a private account). When you sign up for TikTok, your account is public by default, meaning anyone can see your videos, send you direct messages, and use your location information. Parents should make sure to turn on all privacy settings for accounts kids are using, so only people you know can interact with your videos or message you on the app. That means either opting for a private account or changing the settings for comments, duets, reactions, and messages to "Friends" instead of "Everyone." If your child’s account is public, they may be receiving messages from complete strangers. You can also turn those features off completely. 


How does TikTok work? 

Tik Tok users sign up with a phone number, an email address, Facebook, or Instagram. Once logged in, you can search popular creators, categories (comedy, animals, sports), and hashtags to find videos. Or you can use your phone contacts or social media followers to find friends already on the app. Many kids on Tik Tok like to create videos, but plenty of people don't post themselves -- they just use the app to find and follow content creators. 

Is TikTok appropriate for kids? 

Because of TikTok's emphasis on popular music, many videos include swearing and sexual lyrics, so it may not be age-appropriate for kids to use on their own. It's also easy to find people wearing revealing clothing and dancing suggestively, although TikTok won't let you search for objectionable content such as "sex" or "porn." If you supervise your kids and stick to songs you already know from the radio, TikTok can be a kid-friendly experience. Users can also earn TikTok Reward points by inviting friends to download the app, and then they can redeem those points for coupons from brands like Sephora and Uber. It's also possible to spend real money by adding virtual coins to your Wallet. 

What age is TikTok recommended for? 

Common Sense recommends the app for age 15+ mainly due to the privacy issues and mature content. TikTok requires that users be at least 13 years old to use the full TikTok experience, although there is a way for younger kids to access the app. Anyone under the age of 18 must have approval of a parent or guardian -- but there are plenty of young tween users. 

Can kids under 13 use TikTok? 

If your younger kid or tween wants to use the app, there's a section of the app for kids under 13 that includes additional safety and privacy features. Kids can only see curated, clean videos, and aren't allowed to comment, search, or post their own videos. However, the lack of these features makes it unappealing for most kids, and bypassing that section only requires entering a false birthdate, so it's not perfect. The section is only available in the United States.



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