24 February 2020
TikTok’s new Family Safety Mode: What we think
TikTok, the popular social media app that lets you create, share and discover short videos, has just released its new Family Safety Mode. We explain the new features and offer some extra advice.
What is Family Safety Mode?
Family Safety Mode is a new feature that links a parent’s TikTok account to their child’s. Once connected, parents can use the Digital Wellbeing features, which include letting parents control:
- Screen Time Management: how long their child can spend on TikTok each day.
- Direct Messages: who can send message to their child’s account or turn off direct messages completely.
- Restricted Mode: restrict certain types of content that think isn’t appropriate for their child.
What do we think about the new features?
The new features are handy – but start with a conversation
It’s always 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.
Take the time to explore TikTok together and learn how to use the different safety features. Let your child know before you use any of the new Family Safety Mode features. Explain your reasons behind using them and agree some ground rules together. Your child might not like it, but at least they’ll know why you’re using them!
And remind your child they can talk to you about anything they see online, good or bad. Or they can talk to another adult they trust or a trained Childline counsellor.
It’s not about how long you use your screen, it’s about how you use 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, who they’re talking to, and what they’re watching or playing. Reducing the time they spend on their phone doesn’t necessarily change what they’re actually doing.
That’s why it’s best to have regular conversations about how they’re using the internet. If you think they’re spending too long staring at their phone, start up a conversation about what they’re doing before you decide to restrict their time.
Who knows? You could have the next tech-genius changing the future in the palm of their hand, but you forgot to ask and stopped them dead in their tracks. Now wouldn’t that be a shame!
Set some ground rules together – for both of you!
Keeping your child safe from inappropriate messages or more mature content can be useful ways to keep their experience on TikTok positive and fun. But try not to overuse the tools or spend too long monitoring your child’s activities.
A lot of young people like TikTok because it’s a funny and interesting, but also because it’s parent free! If you spend too much time following your child around TikTok or restricting what they can do too much, they might stop talking to you about what they’re do online. They might even stop using TikTok and move to another platform that’s less safe.
We’ve created a family online agreement template so you can decide on some ground rules for both of you. Once you’ve agreed them, why not stick it on your fridge or wall and come back to it regularly to see if it’s working?
Read our full TikTok review
Check out our full TikTok review for advice on how to keep your kid safe on Net Aware, including tips on privacy settings and knowing how to report and block.