17 April 2020
TikTok is disabling direct messaging for under 16s
TikTok, the popular video sharing app, just announced that messaging for under 16s will be disabled. Here’s what we think.
What’s the change?
TikTok has decided to disable its Direct Messaging feature for under 16s, meaning they will no longer be able to send or receive Direct Messages.
What we think
TikTok, which has over 800 million active users worldwide, is moving in the right direction to protect its younger users. Disabling direct chat for under 16s should help reduce the amount of unwanted or negative messages they receive from other users, which is a positive step.
TikTok has also been working more widely to increase the safety of its users, including introducing parental controls called Family Pairing (previously Family Safety Mode).
What you should be aware of
While disabling direct chat is a helpful step towards keeping younger users from receiving unwanted or negative messages from other people, remember that under 16s might still see unwelcome comments on their own or other people’s post (under the videos). That’s why it’s important your child knows how to report and block other users and that they feel comfortable talking to you, another adult they trust or Childline.
There’s also a chance children might turn to other popular chat apps to talk to their TikTok friends or even move to another video sharing app, like byte. These apps might be less safe or have different features, so it’s important to regularly check in with your child to see what apps they’re using, what they’re doing online and who they’re talking to. Ask them about the apps they’re using and explore all the safety settings together so you’re both happy.