TikTok parental controls – the 6 settings you need to change right now to protect your kids

VIRAL app TikTok may be a hit with children – but it can also expose them to extremely inappropriate clips without the right settings.

Investigations into the app have revealed deadly pranks, sexualised clips, and gangs of paedos preying on youngsters.

Getting your kids to stop using TikTok may be a tall order, but will certainly keep them safe.

If you think letting a child stay on TikTok is the best fit then you'll need to make some changes to their app.

Experts are urging parents to toughen up settings inside TikTok to fend off many threats. We've also launched TikTok Time Bomb – a series to raise awareness of the potential dangers on the app.

We reveal the settings you need to change below, but remember: settings can only go so far, and aren't 100% guaranteed to protect your children.

Also, you may not want to follow all of the settings advice below. Making these changes may be overkill for older teens in particular.

How to find TikTok settings

First, launch the TikTok app, which has a white musical note on a black background as its logo.

Then tap Me in the corner, and tap the three white dots for settings.

From there, you'll be able to make important changes to protect your children from harm.

1) Private Account

Head into Settings > Privacy and Safety and look for the Discoverability heading at the top.

Under that you'll see a setting called Private Account. Toggle this on.

A Private Account means only users you've approved can follow you and view your videos and likes.

It won't affect existing followers, however.

TikTok time bomb

  • TikTok has spread like digital wildfire, snapping up over 1.5 billion users since its global launch three years ago — including millions in the UK. 
  • On the surface, the world's fastest growing social media platform shows short clips of  lip-syncing to songs or showing off dance moves but there’s a far more sinister side. 
  • It’s become a magnet for paedophiles as well as a hotbed for violent and extremist content, with TikTok predators exploiting the platform's young user base and lax security to prey on the vulnerable.
  • We've seen kids as young as eight being groomed on TikTok, while other creeps take advantage of young girls posting sexualised content of themselves on the platform.
  • And that's especially worrying on a site which is attracting millions more children every year, with 53 per cent of kids now owning a smartphone by the age of seven.
  • That's why we launched our TikTok Time Bomb series — to make sure parents are aware of the risks their kids are being exposed to, and what they can do to better protect them. 
  • We also want TikTok to better moderate its content so that its not being left to kids to protect themselves online.

2) Don't allow others to find you

You'll also want to turn Allow Others To Find Me off.

TikTok recommends your page to lots of other users to improve video circulation.

Switch the setting off and the account will no longer be recommended to other users.

It will also prevent other people from finding the account more generally.

3) Don't allow interactions

In Privacy and Safety > Safety, you can prevent other users from interacting with you.

Most of the settings are on Everyone by default, but can be changed to Friends or Off.

You can prevent interactions on comments, Duets, Reacts, users seeing which videos you've liked, and also messages.

The last one is important, as messages are a private way for TikTok users to chat – and could be abused by online sickos.

It's also worth activating comment filters to sift through and remove any dodgy messages people post on your page.

4) Screen Time Management

You can limit the amount of time a user spends on TikTok each day.

Go into Settings > Digital Wellbeing > Screen Time Management.

This will allow you to set time limits (like "60 minutes") after which point the user will be cut off for the rest of the day.

During set-up, it's possible to choose a passcode to prevent a child changing this setting in future.

5) Restricted Mode

This is one of the most important settings for any parent with a child using TikTok.

Restricted Mode tries to limit age-inappropriate content from appearing for children.

It's not perfect, and works through using computer-scanning systems – so some dodgy content will inevitably be missed.

However, it's certainly better than nothing.

It's also possible to set a passcode to prevent your child from changing this setting later on.

You'll find this in Settings > Digital Wellbeing > Screen Time Management.

6) Family Safety Mode

This setting lets you assign accounts as 'Parent' or 'Teen', giving you remote control over a child's TikTok access.

You can set watch time limits, exclude inappropriate content and limit who can send messages.

It's possible to do this from your own smartphone, so you can make sure your child is as protected as possible from anyway.

This setting is in Settings > Digital Wellbeing > Family Safe Mode.

Don't trust TikTok and the tech giants – take control of your child's safety

Here's what Caroyln Bunting, CEO of Internet Matters, told The Sun…

  • "It used to be that ‘stranger danger’ was the thing we prepared our children for when they were out and about on their own, but with the advent of social media, stranger danger can be much closer to home.
  • "For the minority in society who set out to harm children, places where young people congregate are a magnet, and in today’s world that includes not only the biggest social media platforms, but any game, app or platform that allows children to connect with others online.
  • "There is no doubt that these companies must do more to protect young people, but there are practical things parents can do today to minimise the risks their children face.
  • "Use privacy settings at the highest level, teach your children only to communicate with those they know in real life.
  • "Don’t shy away from the difficult conversations about online risks, and make sure you stay engaged and have open conversations about what they do when they are online."

How to block users on TikTok

It's also possible to block users who you're worried about.

If someone has been messaging your child inappropriate, you should report it and block the user.

To do this, go to Privacy and Safety > Safety and add usernames to the Block List.

In other news, a recent viral TikTok trend saw teens starting fires with phone chargers and coins.

Dead viral app Vine has been reborn under a new name: Byte.

Teens were recently panicking over rumours that TikTok is shutting down.

And Instagram influencers are being propositioned with huge sums of money for sex on a daily basis.

Are you worried about TikTok? Let us know in the comments!

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