Tiktok, one of the most popular social media applications for teenagers, introduced its "Family Safety Mode" on February 19, 2020. This new feature is created so that parents can set limits on their teen's usage of the application. The feature also includes limits on direct messages, management control on the screen-time and a restriction mode that limits the appearance of sexual and inappropriate content.
TikTok parental control
According to TikTok, parents and guardians who want to use the parental control feature must first sign up for a TikTok account. After registration, their account can be linked to their child's account and they can start using the feature and control what their child sees on the application and how long their child can use the application every day.
The "Family Safety Mode" is already in the application's settings, but for now it is only available in the UK. The parent or guardian just needs to activate it and set it up. Teenagers can't change the settings of the feature with the permission of their parent or their guardian because both accounts will be needed to make any changes.
Although it does not explain if the new feature works perfectly because no test run was released to the public, parents are still thrilled at the thought that they can protect their teens from any harmful and sexual content that they may be exposed to on the application.
Why launch a parental control?
Tiktok is very popular among children and teenagers, a study shows that children as young as 10-years old have their own phones. According to Stephen Balkam, a member of the charity Family Online Safety Institute, parents having their own accounts to monitor their child's usage can be a good thing. The charity believes that good parenting involves parents monitoring their child's online activities and creating content together.
According to John Carr, secretary of the Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety in the UK, said that TikTok is an application that is not suited for children below 13-years old. In fact, as soon as you sign up for an account, a prompt will appear to verify if you are 13-years old and above.
Celebrities use the application, and teenagers can be easily persuaded to purchase items with real money from celebrities and influencers. An investigation that was done by the BBC showed that teenagers were pressured to send money in exchange for messages and phone numbers.
The dangers of TikTok
In December 2019, TikTok and ByteDance, a parent company, were sued by two families from Illinois. They accused ByteDance of tracking, collecting and disclosing private information, including their names, emails and phone numbers. They stated that the information was disclosed to a third party group that targeted minors who use TikTok.
Under COPPA or the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, a federal law that was written in 1998 that offers privacy protection for children online, applications that are geared toward children can't collect personal and private information on children who are under the age of 13 without the consent from their guardians or their parents. Even though the case was settled, issues still persist for the company.
In 2019, TikTok, formerly known as Musical.ly, settled a $5.7 million fine over a separate complaint about COPPA violations.
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