Tiktok’s Family Pairing Has Expanded into Australia
Tiktok made broader steps into expanding the parental control and safety features the app possessed in April 2020. There is very little doubt that Tiktok has problems with content moderation, inappropriate contact from older users, and the content access younger users have within the app.
It is also a poorly kept secret that many users of TikTok are well below the 13+ age recommendation and that they possess these accounts with the full permission of many parents.
TikTok needed to develop further safeguards. Parents need to familiarise themselves with the app to understand the real risks to Privacy and unregulated content that are part and parcel of the behemoth that is TikTok.
Family pairing was the apps offering to endeavour to do both.
This early version of Family Pairing allowed a parent to link accounts with their teens TikTok, and control three facets of their child's account.
- The amount of time spent on the app daily
- Switching on restricted mode to ensure only age-appropriate content was available to view
- Turning the direct messaging feature off.
(note that this feature is automatically unavailable for 13-16 years old users, but it is very easy to lie about birthdates on TikTok at the point of signing up.
Now, the beleaguered yet wildly popular app has expanded this service, but it will require some congenial negotiation with your teen. The improved Family pairing offers extended control for a parent over their teen's TikTok account and is mainly aimed at the younger TikTok users.
What can be done and how to do it with the improved Family Pairing?
There will need to be a sensible discussion between parents and teens about what limitations may be placed on an account. The control a parent will have with this could be viewed as extensive, so a family negotiation will need to occur.
Both parents and teens will require a TikTok account.
When on the home screen, select the Me icon in the bottom right, which will lead to your Profile.
Once on your profile page, select the ellipse tab in the top right.
From here, the main menu appears. This is the location you will later use to restrict various settings on your teen's phone.
Selecting the Family Pairing option will bring you to a brief explanation about the service.
Continuing, this will lead to the Family pairing sections.
From your account, select the Parent option.
Once you have selected Parent, these instructions will appear with a Q-Code.
Your teen will need to be near you with their device and their Tiktok account open. They, too, need to select the Family Pairing option on their phone, then the above Teen choice.
Once they have done this on their account, the following instruction to link accounts follows.
Then this confirmation option appears to link both accounts.
Then a final, additional confirmation that leads to access to your teen's account and control over a variety of options.
You are now linked to your teen's account controls.
What could you consider doing now?
This will depend mainly on your teen, age, familiarity with the online world, and how much you feel you need to intrude into their social media space. Some of the possible steps cited below are part of a discussion you and your child could have regarding protecting them online but not overly restrictive. Private account
Make your teens account private
Head to their Profile, and the ellipse button.
Go to Privacy and select the Private account option.
Stop Allow others to find me
Also found in Privacy is the Suggest Your Account to Others tab.
Disable this feature to prevent your teen from being suggested to algorithmically matched strangers on the app and are hidden from all except friends.
Note that it is still possible for teens to add existing or new contacts through smart device contacts lists, other social media, and scanning other Q codes.
Change who may see what you like
Restricting who may view what your teen has selected is a privacy measure.
Change the Who may View My Liked videos to Only Me to prevent others from seeing your favourite trends.
Limit Viewable Content
This is facilitated within the Restricted Mode within your teen's Profile, located in the menu the ellipse button offers again.
Access Digital Wellbeing, then Restricted Mode.
Turn this on.
There is also the option to create a passcode in this space to remove altogether the ability of your teen to toggle this on or off. For younger teens, this may be appropriate. For older ones could be a step too far. Family conversation is essential to establish trust, resilience, and self-responsibility.
Limit comments and Direct Messages
In the Privacy Menu are Who can Comment on Your Video, And Who can Comments on your videos
Switch both of these to the Friends over the Everyone option.
You may turn these completely Off, but this may be a step too far. Restricting them to Friends,
as a start may be sufficient
Limit screen time
Located under the Digital Wellbeing section of the menu is Screen Time Management
This allows a parent to set a limit to the time their child spends on the app. Forty-five minutes may be a reasonable starting point.
Turn this option on, and follow the instructions.
Consider, instead of turning off comments, applying the Comment Filter.
This automatically blocks spam ad offensive comments.
You can also filter keywords you select yourself to stop from appearing in your child's comments.
Yes, your teen can turn off Family pairing.
TikTok will tell on them. And you will be given notice of this within 24 hours.
You can choose to discuss why with your teen and turn the Pairing back on should this be necessary.
This is a welcome step for younger TikTok users and pre-teen TikTok users. It may be challenging to negotiate this level of control with teens closer to 16yrs, but the option is there now to start a discussion on the safest way to use this popular but controversial app.
Taking steps to secure your child's privacy and improve their safety on this application would be a wise step and allow several parents unfamiliar with the app to gain a level of familiarity with the controls. This knowledge may guide their teens into establishing safe accounts that do not require parental supervision in the future.