This is what you need to know about the TikTok app in 2019. The app combines short videos and music in a new social network with friends, communities and allows you to make your own quick lip sync and creative videos or to simply watch the videos other people make. We’re taking a look at what users and parents need to know about the TikTok app on iPhone or Android.
TikTok is the combination of the original TikTok app and the Musical.ly app that many kids were using throughout 2018. Musical.ly is now totally integrated into the TikTok app.
While Musical.ly was very focused on lip syncing to music videos, TikTok brings in loads of video effects and expands past music. The video clips are only 15 seconds long, but they can take on a life of their own outside of the app.
You may have seen TikTok in the news in early 2019 for a massive settlement with the FTC in response to allegations that the company was collecting information about children using the app. This comes alongside reports that at least 25% of kids have contacted a stranger on TikTok and is facing growing pressure across the globe. TikTok issued an update that directs young users to a new version of the app that prevents sharing of personal information and limits the content and interactions with other users. The TikTok app will automatically put users into the right version of the app based on the age in their profile.
This is what you need to know about the TikTok app on iPhone and Android.
What is TikTok?
The TikTok app describes itself as, “TikTok is not your ordinary destination for short-form mobile video. It’s raw, real, and without boundaries.” It is a social network that exists in the app. You can create 15 second videos that you upload and share. You can also watch a collection of curated videos that TikTok thinks you will love.
The app allows you to add music clips, video effects and stickers to your videos. There are face filters like Snapchat as well as video editing options to combine effects, cuts and other creative tools built into the app. Users can even go live on TikTok like they could on Musical.ly.
TikTok is a free app, but there are in app purchases that users can make with single purchases up to $99.99 to get the most coins in one go. More on that below.
How Old Do you Have to Be to Use TikTok?
The TikTok app is rated 12+ on iTunes and Teen on Google Play. The TikTok Terms of Service say that you need to be 13 years or older to use the service. If you want to be a part of the TikTok Creator Program, you need to be 18 years or older
Of course there are also parental considerations of how old kids need to be to use TikTok, which should be factored in since you can connect with other users on the app.
Is TikTok Safe For Kids?
Is TikTok safe for kids is one of the biggest questions we see. On the surface, yes the app can be safe for kids, but since it is a social network and there are videos being shown to the user and an easy way to make videos with little parental oversight there is a potential for issues.
The app is rated 12+ by Apple for the following reasons;
- Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes
- Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity
- Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
- Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor
- Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References
This will vary based on the videos that the app shows you or your child, and it is an area of concern. You can set up privacy settings to narrow down connections to Everyone, Friends or No one. This control is helpful, but you will want to stay on top of who your kids are connecting with on the TikTok app.
It can be difficult to make a decision about allowing your kid to use TikTok, especially with allegations of child predators on the app, and it doesn’t help that a YouTube prank channel reportedly hired actors to pretend to catch child predators on TikTok.
Ultimately, you’ll need to talk with your kid about what they do in the TikTok app and decide if they are ready to use it and if you think they should use it. The big takeaways are that when something is posted to TikTok it is out there forever, there are strangers on the app like on any social network and it’s something that you need to make sure your kids are ready for.
On February 27th ByteDance, the owner of TikTok agreed to pay $5.7M to the FTC as a settlement regarding allegations that the company was collecting private information from children under 13 who used the app. The Children’s Online Privacy Act of 1998 prohibits companies from collecting information about users under 13 without parental consent. This is the largest civil penalty paid to the FTC relating to children’s privacy.
TikTok In App Purchases
There are TikTok in app purchases that range from 99 cents up to $99.99. These allow you to buy coins that you can use in the app. You can use TikTok without spending any coins, but there will be options where kids may be tempted to use coins. TikTok coins are used for digital gifts that you can send to other users.
How to Use TikTok?
Using TikTok is easy if you want to get started, but you will need to spend a lot of more time if you want to make advanced videos. This video is a good overview for parents and for new users that want to look at the app and learn about it.
You need to install the app, create an account and then you can follow users. You can also look through the featured videos to get an idea of what the videos are like. When you are logged in, you can follow other users by plus sign on the right side of the screen.
You can use the search bar to look for specific types of videos or for your friends to follow. You will be able to see videos for you or just from people you follow when you are on the main screen.
To create a TikTok video, you will need to tap the plus icon, then you can choose music and you can get started with options for music, playback speed and you can also switch between cameras on your phone and use a range of effects. You record by pressing and holding on the button at the bottom of the app. You can also use the stop=watch icon to record hands free.
That’s the basics of making a TikTok video, there are a lot of additional tips and tricks that you will need to learn if you want to match the popular videos on TikTok. You can also download or share your videos to another social network.
How to Make Your TikTok Account Private
You can control who sees your videos, who can comment, direct message or duet with your account or your kid’s account. This is in the Privacy and Safety area of the app. You set this up after creating an account. This is the full guide from TikTok.
Keep in mind that kids can change these settings without a passcode and they can also change options when they post a video to TikTok.
How to Limit Time on TikTok
You can use an array of tools to limit how long your kid spends on the TikTok app. With the Digital Wellbeing option, you can set time and content options for your child. This is built into the TikTok app.
- Go to “Digital Wellbeing” in settings
- Tap “Turn On”
- Set a passcode
- Toggle “Screen Time Management” to on.
You can also turn on Restricted mode to limit some types of content. You can also use tools on the iPhone, iPad or Android.
On iPhone or iPad, ScreenTime is built-in and works very well for limiting app use. Another option that works on iOS and Android is GOYA Move, which connects app time limits to movement, which encourages kids to get out and be active to unlock more app time.
This article may contain affiliate links. Click here for more details.