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A parents guide to TikTok

Many of you will be all too familiar with TikTok, the video-sharing social networking site.  We ask Alicia Drummond our in-House Parenting and Mental Health Expert and Founder of Teen Tips and The Wellbeing Hub what it is and what we should be watching out for.

TikTok allows users to create and share their own videos, or watch content created by other users. Content is primarily of users lip-syncing and dancing to popular music, but it is quickly growing into a platform that is used for the creation of comedic content.

It is intended for users aged 13 and over. Users are required to enter their birthdate when signing up, however, it is easy to enter false information. There is no formal identification required. Once a user, you can report underage users by emailing privacy@tiktok.com.

Things to look out for…

Mature Content
While the majority of content on TikTok is harmless and lighthearted, videos have been reported for featuring content relating to drugs, alcohol, sex and self-harm. Unfortunately, there is little that can be/is done to monitor what is posted due to the volume of users, so it is inevitable that users will come across explicit content when using the app.

In App Purchases
Users are able to buy TikTok coins, which are used to buy emojis to react to content that they enjoy. The price of the coins range from 99p for 100 coins to £93.99 for 10,000 coins!

Addictive Nature
All social media platforms are designed to be addictive, but TikTok may be particularly so. The app uses an algorithm so that users see content that is similar to the type of content they are already liking and the nature of the short videos makes it very easy to watch a large number of videos in very short periods of time making it more and more difficult to stop watching.

Online predators
When an account is set to public, any and all users can connect with each other through commenting on, liking and downloading content. This includes predators who are drawn to the app because of the number of young users that are on TikTok.

Safety Tips

  • Make sure their account is set to private. This way they cannot connect with strangers.
  • Enable restricted mode. This will filter out any content that is not age appropriate.
  • Moderate how much time they are allowed to be using their screens.
  • There is a new ‘Family Safety Mode’ which allows parents to sync their child’s account to their own so that they can see and monitor the content their child is viewing.
  • Check your child has entered the correct birthdate when setting up their account. Remember they should not using the app under the age of 13.

The wealth of resources available within The Wellbeing Hub help parents support their children through adolescence and gives them the skills and knowledge to meet their social and emotional needs. It’s a live and interactive web-app which parents can subscribe to individually here or they can refer us to their child’s school so the whole school community can benefit. Contact us for more information.


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