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Safeguarding Children from Risky TikTok Trends: A Parental Guide

In the dynamic world of social media, TikTok is easily one of the most influential platforms among young users. Its popularity, however, brings with it a range of potentially dangerous trends and challenges that can pose real risks to children and teenagers. As parents, it's crucial to be proactive about protecting your child or adolescent from these hazards. Here are some effective strategies you can use to do this.


Adhering to Age Recommendations


TikTok, like many social media platforms, requires users to be at least 13 years of age. This guideline, set forth by the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), is designed to protect younger children from online risks. 


By ensuring your child does not use TikTok before they’ve reached the recommended age, you can minimize or eliminate their exposure to its content for the time being. You can also decide not to allow your 13-year-old to use TikTok until they are older.


Using “TikTok for Kids” Apps


Until your child is old enough by law (or your parenting decision) to use TikTok itself, consider introducing them to kid-friendly alternatives like Zigazoo, which can be safely used by children five years old and up. However, keep in mind that these apps are still intended to be used with parental guidance and supervision.


Encouraging Open Dialogues


If you do allow your tween to use TikTok, make sure to have open, honest conversations with them about the dangers of some TikTok trends and challenges. Discuss the difference between fantasy and real-world consequences. Warn your child that social media algorithms are primarily designed to maximize user engagement and boost company profits, not ensure safety or privacy. Teaching your child about digital literacy and responsible internet behavior is essential in helping them understand the impact of their online activities.


Leveraging TikTok's Parental Controls


You can also use TikTok parental controls like “Family Pairing” to proactively screen what your child can see or do on the app. Family pairing, for example, allows parents to link their TikTok account to their child’s and set controls, including: 


  • Screen time management


  • Direct message restrictions


  • Limits on exposure to inappropriate content 


Utilizing parental control features can significantly enhance your child's online safety in any social media platform or app.


Staying Informed About Trends and Challenges


Keeping up with the latest TikTok trends is important for parents. This knowledge helps you understand the content your child may encounter and enables you to discuss specific issues relevant to current trends. Resources such as Common Sense Media offer insights and updates on the latest social media trends and their implications for young users.


Involving Educators in the Conversation


Ask your child's teachers and school administrators to promote awareness about TikTok, social media, and internet safety. Addressing these topics in the school setting is a powerful way to establish and reinforce online safety education. A great way to do this is to invite an internet safety expert to give a presentation at an upcoming school assembly.


Teach Kids About the Dangers of TikTok With Net Positive


The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Utah County is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens and leaders. We accomplish this by providing evidence-based programs with a focus on those that improve academic engagement, build character, and promote healthy behaviors.


Our Net Positive Program educates K-12 students about digital safety, health, citizenship, and leadership. After participating in our program, students are 97% better prepared to face internet dangers. Contact us to learn more and ask your school to schedule a Net Positive Presentation today!


References



Kochan, M. (2023, July 11). Parent’s Guide to TikTok. ConnectSafely. https://connectsafely.org/parents-guide-to-tiktok/


Zigazoo App Review. (2020, June 12). Common Sense Media. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews/zigazoo


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