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What is Tik Tok and why should you care?

20 May 2019

Just when you think you’re in the know about your child’s latest social media apps…enter Tik Tok. It is now one of the most downloaded apps in the world and just another obstacle at trying to wrangle your kids away from their phone.

It was 50 years ago that the term “15 minutes of fame” was first coined but fast forward to 2019 and it seems to be 15 seconds in the world of Tik Tok. Here we give you the low down on what exactly Tik Tok is and a few tips to ensure your kids are safe when using the app.

What is Tik Tok?

It is an app that allows users to create 15-second music videos. If you can remember Vine and Dubsmash? Well this is pretty similar, and it looks quite like Snapchat, with the ability to add sounds and song snippets from Tik Tok’s vast library of clips.

In essence, it’s basically karaoke for the digital age!

Where did it come from?

Tik Tok was created by Chinese company ByteDance however in 2017 they acquired similar app Musical.ly. Existing Musical.ly users were then migrated over to Tik Tok with new accounts but still retained the core features of both apps.

Why is it so popular?

It’s a platform for the young – from dancers to anime fans who can demonstrate their creativity. Its where teens and tweens define their visual style with content. Users can create content that engages in various activities such as dancing, cooking, magic tricks and playing with pets. And, because it is so much fun, it can be very addictive.

The Dark Side of Tik Tok

Tik Tok has previously collected data of children who are younger than 13 including email addresses, phone numbers and profile pictures. Much of this information was for public consumption, meaning anyone could have access. Earlier this year The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) landed Tik Tok with the largest fine ever in a US case involving children’s data privacy. This has been due the fact that there have been many formal FTC complaints made including reports of adults contacting children through the app. The app has also exposed kids to pornographic content, sexual predators and cyberbullying.

Age restriction on Tik Tok

Tik Tok requires users to be a least 13 years old to access its platform. In the Republic of Ireland, under the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), anyone under the age of 16 years old cannot access this platform.

Tips to ensure your children’s safety on Tik Tok:

  • Users profiles are made public by default when someone signs up. This means anyone can view their videos, talk to them and get access to their location. Therefore, it is important to ensure that settings are set to private.
  • Ensure your child knows NOT to share their QR code with strangers.
  • In-app purchases can be made, it might be wise to turn off the in-app purchases in Restrictions.
  • Turn off the location service.