If you feel like you’re having trouble keeping up with the most popular apps, you’re not alone. As soon as we figure out an app’s function, features, and how to manage our kid’s activity, it becomes passé. On to the next one! Well, the next one has arrived, my friend. TikTok. It’s an app for making and sharing short videos. The appeal for most kids is that users are able to make 15-second lipsync videos to music provided right in the app. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? But you’re probably wondering: Is TikTok safe for kids?
A recent New York Times article said, “TikTok will change the way your social media works—even if you’re avoiding it.” So, mom, it’s time to dig in. Here are 3 reasons to watch out for TikTok.
1. It’s the Internet, so…
Sadly, if an app is popular among kids, predators will come around. No matter how much we try to protect our kids, we can never ensure that the Internet space they are in is 100 percent safe. For kids under 13, there is a separate section in TikTok that only allows them to access curated, clean videos. They can’t comment, search, or post their own videos. But, to bypass this, all they have to do is put in a fake birthday. Once they are on the full app, some videos have mature content.
2. It incorporates music.
I’m a music lover. Music has a way of uniting us and making us feel like part of the culture. For kids who are forming their own identity separate from their parents, music connects them and teaches them the language of their generation. This makes TikTok that much more appealing and addictive. TikTok is a place for them to find the music their friends or classmates are all talking about. And of course, this might be the very same music you’ve been shielding them from. Is TikTok safe for kids? Not if you’re concerned about them hearing explicit lyrics.
3. It feeds into their need for approval.
TikTok works differently than Facebook and Instagram. Instead of having to build a following or a friends list, users looking for something to post about are immediately recruited into group challenges or shown popular songs. When they post a video, there is instant and abundant feedback. TikTok is a quick fix of the drug our kids have come to desire: approval.
In researching TikTok, one site actually stated that “one of the best things about using the app is that you can get famous by making videos on the platform. The more videos you make, the more famous you get.” I don’t know about you, but I’m OK with my kids not getting famous, and not thinking that fame is the end-goal. If they’re enjoying an app, I want it to be because it’s just plain fun, not because they’re waiting for it to catapult them to stardom.
So those are the reasons to be wary of TikTok, but here’s the good news: At its core, it’s not bad. TikTok is a light-hearted app that gives users a space to express themselves musically or theatrically. With parental involvement (offer to sing a duet with your daughter!), TikTok can be a fun app for families to enjoy together.
Have you been on TikTok? What do you think? Is there another app you’ve been monitoring on your child’s phone?