Explained – What is TikTok?
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a social media platform for creating, sharing and discovering short videos. The app is used by young people as an outlet to express themselves through singing, dancing, comedy, and lip-syncing, and allows users to create videos and share them across a community.
Are There Any Age Restrictions?
TikTok has a minimum user age of 13 years-old.
In Ireland the Digital Age of Consent has been set at 16 years-old. For children under that age consent must be given by the parent or guardian of the child.
How to Create an Account?
Users can either sign up using their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or email account.
Why Do Teens Like it?
TikTok is a fun app that allows teens to create and share videos with their friends.
Since the early days of social media (in particular on YouTube,) lip-syncing videos have proved a popular form of user-generated content among teens. The popularity of TV shows such as Lip Sync Battle has also helped drive interest in this type of platform.
Teens also enjoy competing in the different challenges which can be entered via the trending hashtags on the app. The app has a very dedicated, young community of users. For many of these users, gaining likes, followers and getting their videos featured on the app are important priorities. Creating and sharing their own content is now a big part of how teens spend their time online. Teens are moving away from being spectators online to becoming content creators. This app can be a really creative way, fun way for teens to express themselves and create their own social content.
How Does it Work?
Like most other apps and social networks, users can follow other users, like and comment on other user’s videos. Teens can send emjois to their favourite singer on TikTok.
Users can select the song they wish to use in their video first, then record themselves miming along to the music. Alternatively, users can record their video first and then select a song, and/or add a voiceover. The app has lots of ways to add more fun to user’s videos, for example, there are options to shoot in slow-mo, time lapse, fast forward, filters, effects or even play the song backward etc. Once users are happy with their video, they can post it to their followers and share it on other social networks for example; Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram etc. There is also a duet feature which allows you to connect with another user.
The search tool allows users to view other videos. Users can also view content under the trending hashtags on the ‘For You’ page. Trending hashtags allow users to view content that is currently popular, and contribute their own video to that trend using the same hashtag. TikTok sometimes promotes themed challenges, encouraging users to create videos that are related to that particular theme for example; #Lipsncychallenge, #Comedychallenge, etc.
Can I Have a Private Account on TikTok?
TikTok accounts are public by default for users over the age of 15. Consider setting your account to private/friends only. Go to your profile using the head icon in the lower left corner and tap the three dots icon in the upper right corner. Select “Privacy and Settings” and click on “Privacy”. Here you can secure your account by making your account private. See image above. With a private account only approved users can see your videos, however, your profile remains public.
TikTok Wellbeing and Privacy Updates
TikTok is rolling out new updates aimed at supporting teenager’s digital wellbeing and screen time management. A 60 minute daily screen time limit will be automatically set for every account belonging to a user under age 18. If users reach the limit they will be prompted to enter a passcode in order to continue watching, requiring them to make an active decision to extend that time. The update is based on consultations with experts from from the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Additional features have also been added to the Family Pairing options, including custom daily screen time limits, screen time dashboard, and mute notification options that allow parents to set a schedule to mute notifications for their teenager.
In 2021, TikTok updated the app’s default privacy settings which includes setting the accounts of users aged 13-15 to private by default, restricting the comments on posts of users in this age range to ‘friends’ or ‘no one’, disabling the download video feature for users under the age of 16, restricting direct messaging and hosting live streams to accounts 16 and over, and restricting the buying, sending, and receiving of virtual gifts to users below 18. Read more about the updates here.
Can I Block a User?
To block a user, go to their profile, press on the “…” in the upper right corner, and select “block this user.” You can unblock a user on the same menu.
Users can report comments, videos, chats, or other accounts.
Users can also flag inappropriate content. To report a TikTok press on the button with three dots and then click “report abuse.”
What Are the Potential Risks?
Users may be exposed to bad language and content of a sexual nature. Users can comment on other videos, this leaves the potential for online bullying or negative comments. The app does appear to promote positive comments and encourages users to ‘say something nice’, however, if you come across an inappropriate comment there is an option to report abuse. With anything shared online, we recommend getting to know how the app works, check your privacy settings and always use the Granny Rule!
Like all apps and social networks, TikTok does have community guidelines. If your child is using the app, we recommend familiarising yourself with their guidelines here.