Parents' guide to TikTok: What parents need to know to keep kids safe

Parents' guide to TikTok: What parents need to know to keep kids safe


10/19/2021 10:07:00 PM

Parents' guide to TikTok: What parents need to know to keep kids safe

Here's what parents should know about TikTok — with all its challenges and videos — in order to establish guidelines for their kids.

. But TikTok is a lot more than that: It includes videos from celebrities, average people, doctors, scientists, historians and anyone else hoping to earn some views based off their TikToks, which can range from informative to silly.Experts urge parents to learn more about each social media platform and then establish guidelines for how their children use each one.

Aug. 28, 202102:13“Children are going to need to understand how to navigate this, and I would imagine more people in the U.S. have a smart phone than a driver’s license. You are the governing body that allows your child to be licensed on social media,” Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a parenting expert, told TODAY Parents. “You’ve got to create some sort of program for them to learn the strategies and the tools and the rules.”

What is TikTok?TikTok is a social media platform that allows people to share videos that last anywhere from a few seconds to up to three minutes. Like any other social media site, users can follow people they know or strangers to watch their content. Under the “For You” page, TikTok curates videos it thinks people will like based off their past viewings. On “Following,” people can see videos from those they follow. While some know TikTok only for its reputation with challenges, many are entertaining and people go viral for their takes on dances or other trends.

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While there's no age limit to joining TikTok, experts recommend kids should be 13 before starting their own account.1. What are your teens watching?It's easy for some parents to know what their teens follow on TikTok because their children will readily share videos they think are hilarious, dumb or cringey.

“My son is always sending me stuff,” Dr. Candice Jones, an Orlando, Florida-based pediatrician, told TODAY Parents. “Sometimes I absolutely enjoy that and think, ‘Oh you’re right. That was funny.’”June 24, 202102:59But other teens might be more hesitant to share. That’s when parents might need to ask their teens about what they’re viewing. If there’s anything in the news related to TikTok, bringing it up could be a good way to ask teens what they think.

The Facebook whistleblowerstory, for example, is a natural way for parents to start an organic conversation about their teens’ views on all social media.“It’s fantastic to throw the whistleblowers under the bus,” Gilboa said. “You can be like, ‘Oh did you hear about the whistleblower? What do you think about that?’”

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Teens might surprise their parents by noting they realized social media manipulates people, or they might not know very much at all and parents have a chance to share their values.2. Lead by exampleAny parent knows that sometimes telling a teen to do something won’t end with the desired results. That’s why Jones believes that parents should set a good example when it comes to social media use. She recommends that parents think about how much they mindlessly watch people on TikTok or how often they doom scroll.

“We want to be good stewards ourselves because our kids are watching,” she said. “We are putting stuff out there and we don’t want to put something out there that contradicts what we’re telling our kids — because they’re going to do what they see us do and follow what they see.”

3. Encourage them to use TikTok for goodTikTok can be a place for a teen to express their thoughts on things they love and channel it into a positive message.

Read more: TODAY »

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Don't give any kid under 18 their own phone. Problem solved.

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