Protection of minors on TikTok – With these measures, the platform wants to reassure concerned parents!
At the beginning of 2021, around 15% of all TikTok users were between 13 and 17 years old. Teenagers thus make up the third-largest user group of the video platform. TikTok is particularly popular because videos are easy to make and the content is not predefined. Following, liking and commenting on other accounts is straightforward and part of their usage routine. However, the great popularity of the app also brings risks: there could be insufficient control of children’s user behavior. Concerned parents and consumer advocates are calling for more security. We report below on the measures TikTok has now taken.
For reasons of better readability, we have decided on our blog to use the generic masculine for personal names. This is done completely value-free and has only editorial reasons. All forms of language naturally apply to all genders.
Why are parents and consumer advocates so concerned?
According to the terms and conditions, TikTok is only approved for users over the age of 13, or even 18 without parental consent. However, this does not exclude the possibility that younger users are also on the platform. There is no real age check when the app is installed. In addition, there was no filtering when uploading videos in the past. Other points of criticism, as with all major social media platforms, are data protection and copyright. Parents particularly criticize that TikTok automatically reads out the contacts and does not communicate this sufficiently.
What are TikTok’s new parental control options?
Due to increased criticism, TikTok introduced measures to protect children and young people some time ago, which are now slowly coming into force in Germany. First, since the beginning of the year, users under 16 can no longer post publicly. Existing profiles are thus set to private and can only be viewed by their own followers. Secondly, it is no longer possible for this age group to receive and send direct messages. The download function is turned off for you, as are the “stitch” and “duet” functions, which could lead to harassment of young users.
For the 16 to 18 age group, TikTok is focusing on more transparency. In the future, they will be explicitly asked whether they want to share videos with their followers, their friends (followers they also follow) or just for themselves. Furthermore, they will be made aware of how the download function works on TikTok. In the future, they will have to actively turn on the messaging function and will generally receive more additional information in the form of pop-up windows that are supposed to warn them of possible dangers.
In addition, parents can now link their own TikTok account to their child’s, allowing them to control certain elements of usage. This includes controlling the amount of time their child can use the app and restricting the messaging feature. They can also set it to not play content that is inappropriate for a certain age group. The new guide for guardians is therefore intended to give parents an overview of the various tools and tips for dealing with online safety for young people. Among other things, TikTok suggests that parents review the teen portal and community guidelines with their children before registering, and provides resources on privacy and account security best practices.
The new changes present parents with another challenge. What if the children and teenagers simply make themselves look older than they are? There is still no ID check, but TikTok is trying to use modern technology such as facial recognition to identify the true age of its users. Nevertheless, parents should openly communicate the risks of TikTok use with their children. TikTok explains in its guide how they can do this. Due to the growing political pressure, however, it can be expected that TikTok will establish further measures for the protection of minors in the coming years.