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TikTok Parental Controls

Words by
Jackie Baucom

NOV 02, 2023

TikTok Parental Controls

TikTok is a social media app where users can create and share short-form videos. With over 150 million users in the United States, chances are your child either has an account or has asked for one.

Because of TikTok’s popularity with kids, we’ve written quite a bit about it already. Gabb has articles that identify the dangers of TikTok, how short-form videos affect attention span, and additional information on the harmful effects of TikTok filters and trends.

Although TikTok has many issues regarding childhood mental health and screen time usage, there are parental controls that parents should be aware of.

Family Pairing

TikTok’s parental control comes in the form of Family Pairing. This feature allows parents to customize a child’s TikTok settings for a safer experience. 

With Family Pairing, parents are able to review screen time and set a daily usage limit, restrict inappropriate content, set the account to private, and manage other safety features.

To enable family pairing, the parent must have their own TikTok account. This procedure requires set up through both the child’s and parent’s accounts, so it’s easier to do this together with your child.

  1. Go to the profile page located on the bottom right corner.
  2. Tap on the three lines on the top right corner.
  3. Tap Settings and privacy.
  4. Select Family Pairing from the list.
  5. Tap Continue, and follow the instructions.

Screen time management

In March 2023, TikTok announced a new default setting of one-hour daily screen time. The limit applies to all users under the age of 18 in hopes of protecting kids’ digital wellbeing. Once the 60-minute limit is reached, users are prompted to enter a passcode to continue using the app. 

This setting allows parents to choose a daily time limit between 40 minutes and two hours. If screen time management is on, kids are not able to log out or switch to another account. Setting up screen time management is relatively easy:

  1. Go to the profile page located on the bottom right corner.
  2. Tap on the three lines on the top right corner.
  3. Tap Settings and privacy.
  4. Select Family Pairing from the list.
  5. Tap your child’s profile.
  6. Tap Screen Time Management.
  7. Select preferred time limit.
  8. Tap Turn on for @child

Turn Restricted Mode On

Restricted mode limits content that may not be appropriate for certain ages. It’s important to note that nothing is foolproof, and graphic content can still be present with this feature enabled. If this setting is on, kids are not able to logout or switch to another account. To enable restricted mode:

  1. Go to the profile page located on the bottom right corner.
  2. Tap on the three lines on the top right corner. 
  3. Tap Settings and privacy.
  4. Select Family Pairing from the list.
  5. Tap your child’s profile.
  6. Tap Restricted mode.
  7. Tap Turn on for @child

Make TikTok account private

Private accounts prevent strangers from seeing the account’s videos and contacting the child. However, the account’s profile photo, username, and bio line is still visible to all TikTok users.

Talk to your child about keeping personal information such as their age, birth year, school, and town, out of these areas to protect their privacy and identity. To make an account private:

  1. Go to the profile page located on the bottom right corner.
  2. Tap on the three lines on the top right corner.
  3. Tap Settings and privacy.
  4. Select Family Pairing from the list.
  5. Tap your child’s profile.
  6. Tap Privacy and safety.
  7. Toggle-on Private account.

Additional safety controls

Extra controls include three different categories that parents can personalize. Parents can choose who can direct message the child, who can view the child’s liked videos, and who can comment on the child’s videos. Each category comes with the option of allowing everyone on TikTok, only the child’s friends, suggested friends (recommended by TikTok using synced phone contacts or Facebook friends), or no one. To personalize this settings:

  1. Go to the profile page located on the bottom right corner.
  2. Tap on the three lines on the top right corner.
  3. Tap Settings and privacy.
  4. Select Family Pairing from the list.
  5. Tap your child’s profile.
  6. Tap Privacy and safety.
  7. Under the Safety section, manage who can view, comment, and send DMs to the child.

Any individual TikTok account can further be blocked by following these steps:

  1. Go to the user’s TikTok account profile.
  2. Tap on the share icon () on the top right corner.
  3. Tap Block, and follow the instructions.

Safeguarding Our Children’s Online Experiences

TikTok’s Family Pairing has features that allow parents to take an active role in protecting their kids online. However, these settings do have vulnerabilities and flaws. The safest way to protect children from the harmful effects of social media is through kid-safe tech options, along with awareness of the dangers found online. 

Talking openly to our kids about what they can expect to encounter on TikTok can open the door for future conversations if they do come across something inappropriate.

Have you had to deal with the negative effects of social media on your child’s mental health? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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