Experts in digital safety
When it comes to social media, there’s no doubt whatsoever that the Kids’ Choice award goes to TikTok. In 2021, Qustodio insights revealed that children around the world spent 97 minutes a day watching TikTok videos, and kids in the US spent just 8 minutes shy of a full 2 hours on their For You feed. Preteens and tweens were also huge TikTok users across the year, spending a grand total of 100 minutes a day on the social app.
Looking at the numbers, it’s safe to say that kids love TikTok. And while it can be a source of entertainment, an area to explore creativity, and a place to share interests, it also comes with risks. Using parental controls on TikTok can be a way to help your child navigate the app more safely, and enjoy more age-appropriate content. Let’s take a look at what the app has to offer for concerned parents.
Are there parental controls on TikTok?
TikTok does have its very own set of native tools that can help you manage your child’s account and the content they consume on the app. Here’s the list of native parental controls that TikTok has to offer:
- Family pairing: Pairs your account with your child’s in order for you to have more control over their account and content, including privacy settings, content restrictions, and screen time limits.
- Restricted mode: Limits content that may not be appropriate for your child.
- Daily screen time: Sets limits for watch time allowed on TikTok each day.
TikTok’s native parental controls only apply to the account itself, rather than the app, so it’s important to remember that your child could uninstall and reinstall TikTok at any time, and set up a new account with a different phone number or email address. Therefore, teaming TikTok’s native controls with a parental control tool like Qustodio, which allows you to see the new apps your child downloads and block specific apps, will help to keep any TikTok settings you choose to apply on the account in place.
How to set up family pairing on TikTok
In order to set up family pairing, you’ll need a TikTok account first, so you can pair it with your child’s. Once you’ve created your account, head to the Profile section on the app, and tap on the three lines at the top corner of the screen. Click Settings and privacy, and scroll to Family Pairing.
You’ll then need to select Parent, and you’ll be prompted to scan your child or teen’s QR code. On their TikTok account, repeat the same steps as above, selecting Teen. Scan the QR code that appears, and your accounts will now be linked.
Once your accounts are linked, you’ll be able to control how long your child is able to spend on TikTok each day, limit the content that appears on their For You feed, and restrict direct messages (either by turning them off completely or by restricting who can DM them).
How to limit screen time on TikTok
Within the TikTok app, you can either limit screen time through the Family Pairing option, or by using their Digital Wellbeing tools. In your child’s account, head to Settings and privacy, and scroll to Digital Wellbeing, where you can access Daily screen time.
TikTok allows you to limit screen time to 40, 60, 90, or 120 minutes daily. Once your child has reached the limit, they will only be able to keep using TikTok by entering a passcode, so we’d suggest keeping this passcode to yourself when setting up Daily screen time. Daily screen time on TikTok can also be turned off at any moment, but again, only by entering the passcode you entered at the initial setup.
If you want to limit your child’s time on TikTok to shorter periods of time, Qustodio allows you to limit time on apps in 15-minute blocks, meaning TikTok screen time can be limited to just 15 or 30 minutes – a feature not supported by TikTok’s native parental controls.
How to create a private profile on TikTok
To keep your child’s account private, in Settings and privacy, select Privacy. Here, you can toggle settings to Private account, which means only approved users can follow your child, and watch their videos.
Within the Privacy section, you can also restrict comments on videos, filter spam and offensive comments, restrict mentions and tags, turn off ad personalization, and manage blocked accounts. Bear in mind, though, that if using this method on their phone, your child could change their privacy settings at any time, as the Privacy section requires no passcode. In order to keep your child’s profile truly private, you’ll need to apply these settings using Family Pairing.
How to turn off TikTok direct messaging
On TikTok, only “friends” can send direct messages. That means only followers who your child follows back, or people who they have sent messages to first can talk to them through direct messages. Direct messages can be turned off in the Privacy settings, by accessing Direct messages and selecting No one (meaning your child cannot be messaged by anyone at all). To ensure these settings are not turned off, set them up through Family Pairing.
How to block the TikTok app on your child’s phone
Perhaps you’d prefer to have your child use TikTok on your own phone, where you can view content together as a family. Or perhaps your child already has TikTok installed, and you’d like to prevent them from uninstalling and reinstalling the app to create a new account, free of the parental control settings you’ve applied. You might also be concerned that your child is either too young to watch TikTok, or feel that the content they can access on the app doesn’t tie in with your family’s values.
In all these cases, blocking TikTok on your child’s phone is the simplest option. With Qustodio, you can choose which apps your child is able to use on their phone – blocking use completely, or by being notified when your child downloads any new applications.
Why use parental controls on TikTok?
If your child wants to upload content to TikTok, then they should be aware that managing any type of social media profile can be difficult, with comment sections that can be rife with trolling and cyberbullies, and the pressure to appear “perfect” at every moment.
Even if your child isn’t interested in uploading videos, TikTok still has numerous risks: the pressure to be “perfect” on social media isn’t exclusive to content creators, comment sections can be full of hateful and rude comments, music clips used on TikTok may feature explicit or sexual language, and it’s relatively easy for kids to come up against content that isn’t age-appropriate. In addition, just like any other social media app nowadays, TikTok has a huge commercial aspect to it which can be problematic for younger users, where they are frequently encouraged to make in-app purchases, and are used as marketing opportunities.
The very nature of TikTok makes it easy for your child to get sucked into hours and hours of video content, with a bottomless scroll of relevant videos all curated for them and their interests. TikTok can provide hours of entertainment, but for your child’s digital wellbeing, it’s important to maintain a healthy on-offline balance, putting screen time limits in place for them to properly prioritize other tasks and enjoy family moments together.
By combining Qustodio’s comprehensive parental control features with TikTok’s native settings, you’ll be able to work out the best screen time balance, and make TikTok a more enjoyable experience for them. It’s important to help your child understand the benefits and risks that come along with any social media app, and guide them towards ideal usage, giving them the best chance to navigate the ever-connected, ever-changing world of social media in the years to come.