Connecting people by bridging geographical and time gaps – this is perhaps one of the biggest perks of technology that we enjoy as a society. Communication has become far easier with the help of gadgets, the internet, as well as the various social media platforms and messaging apps available today. Such apps and platforms, like TikTok, also serve as a great avenue for self-expression as well as in discovering or rediscovering hobbies.
Like most things though, the good stuff comes with some downsides. There are certain dangers of TikTok that many people are unaware of or choose to ignore since they appear too technical. While some dangers are closely connected with the app’s design, some threats are initiated by the users themselves. Read on to know more about these dangers along with some safety tips that can aid in keeping such threats away from you and your kids.
What Is TikTok?
TikTok is one of the most popular free social networking and media apps, especially among teens. It is available in 75 languages and has over 1 billion active users, 100 million of which are in the United States. It’s a fun and creative platform that everyone can enjoy; the minimum age, though, is 13 years old as per TikTok’s terms and conditions.
TikTok allows people to create, share, and watch short-form videos or clips. The short videos can be up to 3 minutes and can cover all sorts of content- popular songs, dances, lip-syncs, comedy sketches, and so much more. You can check out various creators, from celebrities, professionals using TikTok as a fun way to impart rather serious information, to ordinary citizens turned TikTok superstars.
If you want to try out the app, whether as a creator or a simple spectator, simply follow these easy steps.
- Download the TikTok app from Google Play or the App Store
- Open the app and go to Me
- Choose a method to sign up (email address, phone number, existing Google, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account)
6 TikTok Dangers Kids Must Avoid
The safety of using TikTok has become a topic for heated discussions. If you are a parent, here are some of the dangers that might threaten your kid’s safety and well-being.
- Inappropriate Content
As previously mentioned, TikTok users have the freedom to create all sorts of content. This, however, also means your child can be exposed to inappropriate content. This occurs even though TikTok has community guidelines covering what are and what are not allowed on their platform.
Some people, especially behind the blanket of their gadget screens, can be rather cruel. Your child can be a target for harsh comments or other things that cyberbullies seem to find pleasure in doing.
- Connecting with strangers
In essence, social media platforms are meant to connect you with people. There is, however, the risk of your child connecting with cyber strangers who turn out to have malicious intentions.
- Personal Data Compromise
This can be the work of hackers or those that befriend your child via TikTok. Your child might unwittingly share personal and/or sensitive information that may lead to identity theft, blackmail, and the like.
From a more technical perspective, here are the deemed dangers of TikTok.
- Extended Permissions and Data Collection
TikTok stores user data in the US and Singapore. They are, however, required to submit user data to the Chinese government if asked since the parent company, ByteDance, is a Chinese company.
- Data Security and Other Similar Vulnerabilities
As with most apps, TikTok has its security vulnerabilities which hackers can take advantage of. It also utilizes an HTTP connection, as opposed to an HTTPS connection, to deliver videos.
4 TikTok Safety Tips To Follow
TikTok has its lurking dangers just like any other social media platform. Monitoring your child’s TikTok activities and educating them about the lurking dangers will go a long way to keep them safe.
Here are some safety tips you can teach your child for that extra layer of protection from TikTok dangers.
Keep Your Account Private
Ask your child to keep their account private. Since all accounts are public by default when created, here’s how to make them private.
- Tap the three dots in the top-right corner of the profile screen
- Select Privacy and Settings, then Privacy and Safety
- Under Discoverability, tap the toggle to make the account private
- Disable “Allow others to find me’ to stop TikTok from suggesting other users follow their account
Enable Comment Filters or Turn off Post Comments
You can enable comment filters to automatically hide spammy and offensive comments. Also, opt to turn off post comments to avoid exposing your child to hurtful comments on any video posted. Restrict or Disable Messages
Enable In-app Screen Time Management
One can easily lose track of time when going through TikTok videos or creating content. To keep track of your child’s screen time, go to Privacy and Settings, and then Digital Wellbeing. Under Screen Time Management, choose from various time limits, set them, and confirm with your four-digit code.
Family Safety Mode
The Family Safety Mode is a new feature that links your account to your child’s account. This, of course, means you must create your own TikTok account. Once enabled, you can control the Digital Wellbeing features like Screen Time Management, Direct Messages, and Restricted Mode.
Frequently Asked Questions About TikTok Dangers & Safety
- Does TikTok steal your information?
TikTok collects a range of information, as for stealing them, there have been claims but no concrete evidence has been presented so far. When creating a TikTok account, or account in any social media app for that matter, you will be presented with a user agreement where data collection practices are stated. It’s best to go through the details before creating an account.
- Why is TikTok unsafe?
TikTok is unsafe in that users may be exposed to inappropriate content and they may become targets of cyberbullying, phishing, and even identity theft. There are also more technical dangers that must be considered including the app’s data collection methods and extended permissions, and other security vulnerabilities.
- Is TikTok spyware?
While TikTok does collect and keep track of certain information as per their user agreement, there is no proof to concretely justify claims TikTok is spyware.
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