TikTok has been a source of refuge and fun for so many, both before but especially during the pandemic. Like YouTube, Instagram, and many apps before it, TikTok users are seeing a rise in “Challenges”; some are harmless, some are not. Whether coming from a Hollywood celebrity, a popular musician, or a digital influencer – challenges are being shared and our kids are looking to recreate them for either entertainment, a sense of belonging or a desire for their 15 minutes of fame.
What should parents know? How can we help kids use TikTok in safe & healthy ways?
In our 18th episode of the Managing Family Life Online Webinar Series, we discussed TikTok challenges with Diana Graber, founder of Cyber Civics/Cyberwise, and author of “Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology.” If you are completely new to TikTok, take a moment and read our overview from last summer as a refresher.
Although this episode focused on a variety of topics from security settings to digital literacy to specific online challenges, here are a few key takeaways:
- Before diving into a challenge, dive into the safety features. TikTok has many features and settings designed to help families with the safe and secure use of their app. Here are some incredibly helpful features:
- Family pairing allows parents to limit the amount of time, type of content, and connections with others.
- Restricted mode limits the appearance of content that may not be appropriate for all audiences. Found under the “Digital Wellness” setting, parents can limit the time spent and content seen on the app, even without Family Pairing enabled.
- Discoverability helps parents limit the searchability of the content on your child’s account, limiting it to friends rather than the wider world. The tool also prevents other people from seeing what videos your child has liked.
- Not all challenges are created equal. TikTok is usually known for fun dance routines or funny filters but should be noted that dangerous challenges have also emerged. For every fun, family challenge like the blinding light dance or drinking cranberry juice to Fleetwood Mac, there is inappropriate, dangerous or overtly sexual content on the app. The ‘blackout’ challenge, which encourages people to try and pass out by restricting their airflow, has resulted in the death of a child as young as 10. A full list of these dangerous challenges/trends was collected and shared here by Newsweek. Be informed about these, talk to your kids about what they are doing and seeing on TikTok, and discuss why some challenges are ok while others are not.
- Parents & schools should prioritize digital citizenship and literacy. What most kids do not realize is that participating in a challenge or app is more than a moment in time. They may seem fun now, but their participation could haunt them for the rest of their life. Ask kids to think about what they are doing online and how they might feel if the whole world could see it forever. Privacy settings can help them avoid such issues down the road, but the best setting? Thinking before you post.
If you are interested in learning more on this topic some additional resources include:
- CyberWise Learning Hub – TikTok
- “Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology” by Diana Graber
- Social Media and Our Kids Lens of the World
- Social Media and Social Causes
For more about our webinar series, visit https://internetsafety.trendmicro.com/webinars