You have probably heard of the TikTok app. But do you also know how it works, what your children are doing, and what dangers may be in it? We clarify.
With the first cell phone, children are now holding a small computer. Thanks to the high data volume and flat rate, you always and everywhere have access to games, social networks, and apps. Parents quickly lose track of what exactly the children are doing on their cell phones and, above all, how much time they spend on them.
The TikTok app is particularly popular with teenage children. According to TikTok, 800 million people worldwide already use the music video network (as of October 2019). In Germany alone, there are around 5.5 million (as of October 2019). But what exactly fascinates children and young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 about this app?
What is TikTok?
The core of the TikTok app is about music, dancing, and comedy, all packed in short clips of around 15 seconds. The videos can be up to 59 seconds long. The motto of the app is: “Every second count”, in German: “Every second count”. The shorter and more pointed the video, the higher the chances of success. A clip is successful if it collects a lot of likes and comments.
That means users record a short clip, add a song to it, postpone it with trendy or trendy hashtags, and post it on their profile. The more often the video is viewed, the more likes and followers you collect, the more successful you are on TikTok.
So-called challenges, in which users prove their dance or comedy talent, make up a large part of the popular video clips on TikTok.
Why is TikTok so successful?
According to the digital and social media marketing blog ‘FUTURE’, TikTok was the most successful app in the app stores in the first quarter of the year. Data analysis showed that 69 percent of users are between 16 and 24 years old and 60 percent of them are female.
The app’s recipe for success seems to be its ‘simplicity’. Everyone can create a profile in no time at all and easily make short videos with their mobile phone and put them live.
It’s even easier and faster to consume other users’ videos. You don’t even need your profile for this. Simply download the app and watch videos in the TikTok app like on an assembly line. Because if you have seen a video, just swipe your finger up and the next and the next and the next to appear.
Fun and creativity are paramount at TikTok. It’s about entertainment and about portraying yourself. As funny, funny, or creative as possible. And that’s what makes the app successful.
How old must TikTok users be?
Everyone can download the TikTok app. They are available for Android and iOS operating systems. Just by downloading the app and without having to create your profile, you are already able to watch videos from other users. To post your videos and like other users’ videos, you have to create your profile. The general terms and conditions of the TikTok app stipulate that users must be at least 13 years old.
The problem: The app only asks for the date of birth when registering. So if you trick a bit here, you just cheat a few months or even years older and the registration is successful. This means that the app is also fully available to children under the age of 13.
Is TikTok dangerous?
Whenever too much personal data is disclosed on the Internet, there is a certain risk. Children should therefore always be made aware of the fact that they remain as anonymous as possible. Difficult with an app that is about generating likes and followers with personal videos.
That is why it is particularly important at TikTok and other social networks to explore these together with your child. A principle that all parents should pass on to their children for use and participation on the Internet: Do not tell the public anything online that you would not tell a stranger on the street.
Also, account settings are extremely important to protect a user’s privacy. This is also best to explore and adjust together with your child. It can be difficult for a child to understand the wording of each attitude. So take your time and don’t rush anything.
At TikTok, you should not only pay attention to the data but also the usage behavior. Because the app has great addiction potential. You quickly forget space and especially the time when you swiped through the countless videos. According to their statements, German users open the app ten times a day on average and spend an average of 50 minutes with TikTok. There are also other apps, games, or social networks that keep the child on the phone.
TikTok offers ‘accompanied mode’ for parents
Since February 2020, TikTok has therefore been offering an ‘accompanying mode’ for parents in Europe, which, among other things, allows the usage time to be set. So you can decide whether the child can spend 40, 60, 90, or 120 minutes a day with the app. If the time has run out, you need a password to continue using it.
The contact options can also be set. You can decide who can contact the child via private messages or even rule out that the child will receive PMs.
There is also the option of activating a restricted mode. That means that together with the child, parents filter which videos end up in the child’s ‘For You’ feed, for example. It is not about the specific content of individual videos, but rather about the general category of videos. For example, videos that are intended for adults can be excluded.
Should I ban my child from TikTok?
It sounds like a good and simple idea to simply ban the child TikTok up to a certain age. Of course, that can work. However, it is a better way to explore an app like TikTok with the child and teach them how to use it responsibly.
Because the day will come when the child will travel independently on the Internet. If it has learned to move safely on the net, it will be able to recognize and avoid dangerous situations.
The keyword here is media literacy. You cannot achieve this by prohibiting and monitoring the child. But by exploring together. Then parents can also be more reassured about what the child consumes on the Internet and how much time it spends on it.