Social networks, apps and games


TikTok is a social media platform that lets you create, share and discover videos. You can use music and effects to enhance your videos and you can also browse other people’s videos and interact with them.


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TikTok has a number of default settings for 13-15 year olds that can help keep them safe while using the app. By default, all accounts are set to private meaning only people who follow them can watch their videos, and under 16s can’t receive or send direct messages. This will help stop people they don’t know from watching their videos and contacting them.

If you decide to let your child use TikTok make sure they’re creating an account using the correct date of birth so these settings are automatically set up. 

TikTok’s parental controls feature, Family Pairing, lets you link your child’s account to your own to help you manage how they use the app. We would recommend exploring this with your child and deciding whether it’s appropriate for your family to use. 

Be aware that while these settings will help to stop people they don’t know from seeing their videos, it won’t stop them from seeing upsetting or inappropriate content uploaded by other people.  

Safety features

TikTok’s Youth Portal has been designed to give young people a place to learn about how to stay safe online, as well as information on TikTok’s safety tools and controls. The platform also has a Guardian’s Guide for parents and carers that gives you an overview of all the different safety tools and settings you can use to help keep your child safe. 

They also have a Bullying Prevention Guide where you can find tips about how to stop unwanted contact and what to do if your child receives abuse on the platform.  

TikTok’s family pairing mode lets you connect your own personal TikTok account to your child’s and gives you access to features to help manage their account. Using your linked account you can set their profile to private, restrict who can contact them, disable comments on their videos and manage screen time.  

You can also turn on ‘Restricted Mode’ on the app and switch off the search function. This will help stop your child from coming across content that might not be suitable for them.

16–17-year-olds have their Direct Messaging setting set to ‘No one’ by default. This means that they won’t be able to receive private messages from other users. Under 16s are not able to not send or receive direct messages from anyone, so it’s important that your child signs up with their correct age.


Privacy & location

TikTok has a few default privacy settings in place for accounts held by 13-15 year olds so it’s important to make sure your child signs up with the correct age.  These include:

  • Account is automatically set to private meaning only people who follow them can see their videos. When an account is private other users can still see your username and profile picture. 
  • Public comments are switched off and they can choose to let friends comment or disable this feature completely. 
  • 'Suggest your account to others' which recommends your account to other users who you might not know is switched off. This means only users who have your child's username will be able to add them. 

When your child turns 16 you might want to talk to them about keeping some of these settings in place.

Reporting & blocking

You can easily report content or block other users without having to leave the app.

It can take moderators a few days to review, report and block requests and there is no guarantee upsetting or worrying content will always be removed. There’s also no way of stopping other people screen recording and re-sharing a video that may have been deleted off another account.

If you have made a report but potentially harmful content hasn’t been taken down then you can report this to Report Harmful Content.


Your child can explore video content created by other users on the ‘For you’ page. When you first start using the app it will recommend a random selection of content to help decide what videos it will show you in the future. This means that it’s easy to come across content that a child might find upsetting or worrying. Once you’ve watched a video, even for a few seconds, you’re then more likely to be shown a similar one in the future. This means that your child could see more upsetting videos.

While exploring the app we did come across videos containing adult themes that a child might find upsetting. These included stories discussing traumatic events, health issues and mental health struggles.

TikTok say that they delete all content that violates their Community Guidelines. However, this doesn’t always mean inappropriate content containing violence or other harmful themes will get deleted straight away. 

Be aware that over 16s can decide to allow their videos to be downloaded by other users. Although this setting is switched off by default for accounts set up by 16-17 year olds.

To stop upsetting or offensive comments appearing on your videos you can change your account settings to ‘Filter all comments’. This stops comments appearing publicly on your videos before you’ve approved them.

As the feature needs to be switched on manually, it won’t necessarily stop your child from seeing comments that contain upsetting or offensive language on other people’s accounts. Other users could still choose to approve upsetting or offensive comments so it’s important to talk to your child about reporting and blocking as well.

O2 Guru top tip


Keep TikTok as private as possible

Explore the settings with your child and switch the account to private to make sure videos are only shared with their friends.

Top tips for staying safe

Sitting down with your child and exploring their favourite app or game is a great way for you to learn more about what they like to do online.

You can ask them why they like to use an app or play certain games, as well as who they’re talking to and what sorts of things they’re sharing.

You can also read our Net Aware reviews for tips on how to keep kids safe on popular apps, sites and games.

Family Pairing (previously Family Safety Mode) lets you link you link your child’s TikTok account to your own so you can help manage:

  1. Screen Time Management: how long your child can spend on TikTok each day.
  2. Direct Messages: who can send messages to your child’s account or turn off direct messages completely.
  3. Restricted Mode: restrict certain types of content that you think isn’t appropriate for your child and switch off the search function. 
  4. Privacy Settings: decide whether your child's account is private or public. 
  5. Disable Comments: switch off comments on your child's post or set them to friends only. 
  6. Search: decide whether your child can search for content, users, hashtags, or sounds.
  7. Liked Videos: decide who can see the videos your child likes on TikTok. 

These tools are handy at helping parents keep their children safe on TikTok, but we think it's best to start with a conversation about staying safe online. If you’re worried about TikTok – or even just interested – ask your child why they use it, what they like and dislike, and different ways to stay safe while on it.

A lot of parents are concerned with how long their kids spend staring at their screens. But it’s not about how long they’re on their screens, it’s about what they’re doing online and who they’re talking to. That’s why it’s best to have regular conversations about how they’re using the internet and ways to stay safe.


Your child might come across something upsetting or negative on TikTok. If this happens, they might want to report content or block another user. 

To report another user in TikTok, you can go to settings and click 'report a problem'. You can block another user by going to their profile and clicking 'block'. You can explore these features with your child and discuss when and why they might want to use them.

And remember to let your child know that they can always talk to you about worrying things they see online. 

Help your child think about what they share online and who sees it. Compare it to what they would be happy to share offline.

Use examples that are easy for them to understand: “You shouldn't give your number to somebody you don't know on the street. Is somebody online you don't know any different?”

Listen to their answers. And be positive and encouraging.

Remind them that they shouldn’t share private things, such as:

  • personal information, like names, emails, phone numbers, location and school names
  • other people's personal information
  • links to join private group chats
  • photos of themselves
  • photos of their body, such as sexual photos or videos.

You might want to read TikTok's information and advice for parents. It has details on how to make accounts private, block other users and extra resources around internet safety.

Explain that you understand the internet is a great place to play, create, learn and connect. But remind them they can talk to you if anything upsets or worries them.

Reassure them that you won’t overreact – you’re just looking out for them.

It’s important to remind your child that they can talk you, another adult they trust, like a teacher, or Childline about anything they see online.


Talking to your child

Having open, regular conversations with your child will help you to really understand and explore the online world together. Our tips and advice can help you start these conversations.

Talk about staying safe online

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