TikTok Launching New Features To Keep Teenagers Safe On Their Platform

TikTok has implemented new features to keep users safe while browsing and alleviate the worry from parents of what the kids are watching online.
(Credit: Solen Feyissa/Unsplash).

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TikTok recently held an online dialogue called TikTok #ListenToYOUth, which helped facilitate talks between parents and youths especially in the subject of online safety.

The video-sharing giant recognises the challenges parents are facing in this digital age.

With the introduction of new safety resources and guides for parents, TikTok is giving them the necessary equipment to act as digital stewards for their children, paving the way for a better online environment.

Trust And Open Communications Is Key

TikTok’s safety resource and guides are just as important to parents as building trust and having an open line of communication with their children about online safety.

One of the participants of the dialogue, Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, Chairman of Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE), shared her thoughts on building trust and not stalk or spy on their children.

She said that trust needs to be instilled from a young age and it’s a lot easier to let the children come to the parents when they are facing any problems.

She added that it is okay to be a helicopter parent with the condition that a balance is struck. Parents need to give children their space and that there should not be any more “My Way, Or The Highway” rhetoric from parents.

She continued, stating parents should also accept that home is not the end game for their children to find support.

Meanwhile, the youth’s perspective of the subject is maintaining an open channel of communication is equally important.

Having parents that take an interest and learn about the social media platforms that their children frequent, not only to learn the risks involved but to see the positive side it is something that’s welcomed by youths.

While social media can be a toxic place for teens it can also be the catalyst for change, says Potter Kai from Lions Club International who is the youth representative for the dialogue.

He stated that youths are using social media to amplify and advocate for things like environmental issues, equality and even drive social charity causes, the online environment is looking positive.

Potter then added that if it were not for social media, a lot of causes wont see the light of day. Youths are indeed using these platforms to increase awareness and parents should recognise and support the efforts shown online and offline.

Parents taking an interest in what their children are advocating for could help build a healthy relationship with the children and social media, with parents acting as role models could foster a better online presence by the children.

(Credit: Amanda Vick/Unsplash).

A Guide For Parents To Maintain Childrens’ Safety Online

Another outcome of the dialogue is an established guide for parents to keep their children safe online, especially while consuming content on TikTok;

  1. Set Appropriate Limits

    Digital or Cyberparenting should not constrict children’s use of technology and the internet, it is rather a balancing act of face-to-face and face-to-screen time.

    TikTok has safety features such as Family Pairing which allows parents to directly manage their childrens’ direct messages and comments on their page.

    As part of their Digital Wellbeing program, TikTok has the Screen Time Management feature which the screen time for up to 2 hours and also curated age-appropriate content for children.

  2. Discuss Privacy

    Parents should talk to children about the importance of privacy is and teach them what digital footprint means, establish boundaries in online interactions, oversharing personal information, and the risks of hacking.

    By teaching children the importance of privacy, they will become more aware of the decisions they make online.

    TikTok has made accounts for users aged 13-15 be set in private mode automatically, which maintains their safety.

  3. Discuss Cyberbullying

    Communication is important, especially on childrens’ online experiences, what they are consuming and what they are talking about with their friends or if they are being bullied online.

    Parents should openly communicate with their teen kids and ask about their online experiences. They should also take the time to learn about TikTok’s new anti-cyberbullying features that allow users to control their content and the interactions they receive.

  4. Educate on Dis-/Mis-information

    Get children to analyse what they see on social media and fact-check the information before sharing. Parents also need to expose their children on how to sift through content.

    A recent development from TikTok is the Safety Centre dedicated to bust hoaxes and educating users about challenges, which includes advice for parents in addressing the potential harm of online media.

    The video-focused platform is actively improving the language used in warning labels for potentially harmful content.

  5. Family Tech Boundaries

    Having an agreement on when and where the whole family can use their devices, including setting device-free zones and family time where everyone spends time together with consequences in place for ones that break this agreement, that also includes the parents.

TikTok says they are committed in establishing a positive environment and protecting users against platform misuse.

They will also continue working with organisations that will help build better policies, tech, and privacy control for user education while promoting a safe environment in the platform.

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