TikTok, after the worst start imaginable, TikTok starts taking safety seriously, finally.

TikTok improves safety for teenagers

TikTok, social media, TikTok safe, teenagers TikTok
TikTok is getting safer in US & Europe, however, is nowhere near as safe as TikTok in China where Govt enforces parent control

TikTok really needs to keep improving

People come to TikTok to be entertained and share their creativity with others. If you are looking for a book recommendation, check out #BookTok. Show off your cooking skills on #CookTok. TikTok says there is a home for everyone on TikTok.

TikTok offers safety and privacy controls to decide with whom we share content. It's important that TikTok continues to improve and focus on age-appropriate experiences. For example, accounts belonging to kids under 16 years of age are private by default. Direct Messaging is only for people over 16 years of age. Most parents don't realise they can guide and manage their teen's TikTok presence with Family Pairing.

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A brief history of TikTok

TikTok is the merger of two very successful Chinese Apps and TikTok. 

Bytedance Technology Co. of Beijing bought Shanghai-based  (a popular lip-synching App that young girls loved) for circa $800 million in Nov 2017. Bytedance officially merged the Apps and TikTok in Aug 2018, dropping and making TikTok an international App. TikTok features videos between 15 seconds and one minute with more filters, better effects, smoother editing and publishing systems. TikTok's content, much of it unchecked and seriously manipulated, makes millions of parents worldwide anxious.

TikTok is called Douyin in China, with close to 600 million daily users. TikTok and Douyin have roughly the same interface, with the latter having more advanced features, including e-commerce. TikTok and Douyin have no access to each other's content. Their servers are in their respective regional markets. They are many complaints this is not true and that the Chinese Govt accesses TikTok.

Family Pairing

With Family Pairing, TikTok helps parents guide teen browsing, so parents may connect their TikTok account to their teen's TikTok account to control content and privacy settings

  • Search: Limit your teen search for content, users, hashtags, or sounds
  • Screen Time Management: Set 'Time Limit'
  • Restricted Mode: Control content that is not appropriate in your teen's For You feed

Now there new set of changes for teens aged 13-17 to further enhance these proactive protections. These changes will continue rolling out to our community globally over the coming months.

New changes to Direct Messaging privacy settings

For teens aged 16-17 joining TikTok, their 'Direct Messaging' setting is 'No One' - To message others, they can switch to a different sharing option. If you already have an account and want to use DM's. TikTok will ask you to confirm privacy settings based on the existing messaging protection, for example, not allowing images or videos in messages and disabling messaging for accounts under age 16.

TikTok, social media, TikTok safe, teenagers TikTok
TikTok is getting safer in US & Europe, however, is nowhere near as safe as TikTok in China where Govt enforces parent control

Decide who can watch your videos

Making a TikTok is creative and great fun – choosing music, effects, and getting the transitions right. Next, it's important to choose how the video will be shared. TikTok options available to them we're now adding a pop-up that appears when teens under the age of 16 are ready to publish their first video, asking them to choose who can watch the video. They won't be able to publish their video until they make a selection.

Going forward with videos, creators need to decide who can watch before they post. Accounts aged 13-15 are marked private. Private accounts can choose to share their content with 'Followers' or 'Friends', as the 'Everyone' setting is switched off. The Duet & Stitch feature are disabled for accounts under 16.

TikTok says

“Our continuous investment in our trust and safety operations reflects our focus on maintaining TikTok as a place for creativity and entertainment,” said Cormac Keenan, global head of Trust and Safety at TikTok. Meanwhile, Candie Frazier, a former content moderator in California, is suing TikTok. She claims the company failed to protect her mental health after viewing extreme and violent videos. The company said it does not comment on ongoing litigation but has continued to expand on a range of wellness services to support moderators. 

Reporting or to block a person, video, comment, or chat


  • Go to their profile.
  • Tap on the three dots.
  • Tap Report or Block.


  • Tap on the right-facing arrow on the video page under the heart and comment icons.
  • Tap Report.


  • Tap and hold the comment.
  • Tap Report.

Inappropriate chat messages:

  • Open the conversation.
  • Tap on the three dots.
  • Tap on Report.

Choose who can download your public videos

Additional context is now provided to help teens aged 16-17 understand how downloads work, and choose the option the most comfortable. If they opt to turn the feature on, they'll receive a pop-up asking them to confirm that choice before others can download their videos. Note that downloads are permanently disabled on content from accounts under the age of 16. Of course, all of this depends on the child, teens having properly input their age. 

A mindful approach to push notifications

TikTok supports the well-being of community members, with features such as 

Screen Time Management - Controlled by either child/teen or parents as part of Family Pairing

TikTok consults with well-being experts and paediatric experts. There is a youth portal to develop youth well-being and stop bullying or threatening behaviour.

Push Notifications are being curtailed for U15s and U17s. From 9 pm and 10 pm, respectively.

There will be more announcements over the coming- 


All the above only applies when the child or teen, truthfully declares their age. TikTok does not apply age verification. 

Articles of Interest

Articles, Links & Connections from the Internet Safety Talks site you might find interesting

  1. What is Sexting
  2. Help, I just saw a naked picture of my teen on her phone
  3. Teenagers need a good Online Reputation 
  4. Can the Police search your Phone?


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