Is TikTok Safe to Use?

Privacy and Safety settings can heighten security for kids - and adults, too

TikTok is a short video social app that allows users to upload 15 or 60-second videos reacting to funny videos, quoting their favorite movies, trying out TikTok challenges, and more. Although generally safe to use, there are still safety concerns to consider when using any social media app even TikTok.

Safety Concerns When Using TikTok

When you choose to use TikTok to create videos, you're electing to put yourself out there in a visual way. Beyond this fact, there are other safety concerns to consider when using the app:

  • Private messaging and comments: People you don't know can send you private messages and comment on your videos when using a public TikTok account.
  • Video download functions: When your account is set to public, strangers can download your videos to their mobile device to be viewed offline.
  • TikTok duets: Duets are also a feature of public accounts. This means strangers can create another video by filming a "duet" with your original video.
  • Shared personal information: It's possible to accidentally show identifying information such as your general location while filming a video.
  • Inappropriate content: Just like any social media app, you run the risk of exposing yourself to inappropriate content while using the app.

Unfortunately, there's no way to filter what you receive from individuals you don't know without a private account.

 Hispanic female blogger in stylish wear with curly hair dancing and recording video for Tik Tok on cellphone while standing near wall on street against green background.

David Espejo/Moment/Getty Images

How to Protect Your Privacy While Using TikTok

To protect yourself while using the TikTok app, there are various settings you should consider located under your Privacy and Safety settings.

To find these settings, tap the three dot icon in the top corner of your TikTok profile, then tap Privacy and Safety.

  • Private account: You can switch your account to private, which means you can choose whether you want your videos only visible by you or you and your friends. This prevents strangers from downloading your videos, commenting on videos, creating duets, etc.
  • Allow others to find me: If you don't want others to find you, you can disable this feature. That way, TikTok won't suggest your account to other users inside the app.
  • Safety features: Under Safety, you'll see various features you can disable such as video comments, duets, reactions, private messages, downloads, and more.
  • Comment filtering: You can also enable comment filtering which filters spam and offensive comments on your videos, should you remain public.
  • Keyword filtering: Want to filter specific words? You can do so by filtering your keywords. Simply enable this feature and add the keywords you wish to filter.

Beyond TikTok's privacy and safety features, there are a few online safety tips you should always keep in mind.

  • Think before you post: Remember to be smart about what you post, especially with a public account. As you record, make sure there's no personal information in your shot or any background that could give away your location.
  • Be selective with your follow requests: If you don't know the TikTok user, don't accept the follow request. In addition, make sure you verify who you're speaking to before you engage in a chat with a TikTok user.
  • Report inappropriate content: If you think the content is inappropriate, chances are it might be to someone else. Report it using the reporting features inside TikTok.

Is TikTok Safe for Kids?

It's recommended that children under the age of 16 don't use the TikTok app due to access to inappropriate content and a possible connection with strangers. However, TikTok's minimum age requirement is 13.

According to TikTok, users under the age of 18 must have permission by a parent or guardian prior to creating a TikTok account.

Parental Controls for TikTok

As a parent, there are some settings you can use to help protect your children should they use the TikTok app.

  • Digital Wellbeing: This setting found inside the account settings allows you to enable screen time management which alerts your child after they've been using the app for two hours.
  • Family Pairing Mode: Initially called Family Safety Mode, this feature lets parents link their account with their child's and control the app remotely with this feature, which is inside the Digital Wellbeing settings. Options including turning on Restricted mode, setting screen-time controls, and limiting messaging.
  • Restricted mode: Inside the Digital Wellbeing settings, you can also enable Restricted mode which limits content that may not be appropriate for some audiences and requires your child's TikTok passcode to be changed every 30 days.
  • Private account: You can also switch your child's account to private, which prevents users other than their friends from seeing their videos, commenting, sending messages, etc.

For full protection, it's important to talk with your child about the importance of these safety settings. Unfortunately, it's easy to disable these settings once set. Make sure you communicate with your child and check their app usage periodically.

You may wish to download the TikTok app and create an account to simply monitor the content available. If you see something inappropriate, report it. You can also follow your child's account to monitor what they're posting on TikTok.

To learn more about TikTok's terms, visit TikTok's Terms of Service. To see how your child's information is used, you can visit TikTok's Privacy Policy for Younger Users.

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