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TikTok Guide for Parents (2024): What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

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Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.

This TikTok course will help parents, students, & educators learn

  • Why kids like TikTok
  • Key words and phrases students use when talking about TikTok
  • How to have fun, get a laugh, learn a new tip or trick on TikTok--but set limits and practice sticking to them
  • How a hidden feature of TikTok might expose all of your videos to strangers, even if you think only your friends see them

Become a member or log in to view this whole video lesson

Become a member or log in to learn more on this topic

Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.
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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

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Parent VIP Member

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

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Educator Webinar Attendee

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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

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Full Replay - Navigating TikTok (For Students, Parents, & Educators)

TikTok, a social media app dedicated to short-form videos, allows users to watch and create videos that are 15 to 60 seconds long. It is wildly popular among U.S. teens and young adults who enjoy watching and creating their own videos. The built-in video creation tools make it easy for users to add filters, songs, effects, and sound bites without any additional apps.

Students go to TikTok for comic relief, to escape from stress, learn “life hacks,” connect with influencers/celebrities, learn trending tips and tricks, practice video-editing skills, stay current with world happenings, and even try lip syncing to popular songs. Students may run into inappropriate content while using the app, so it is important to have an open dialogue with your student so they know what to do if they get into an uncomfortable situation.

Educators and parents: Guide your students' reflection and discussion with this student worksheet. (Log in to your Google account and select File-->Make a Copy)

Parents and Teachers:View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Top Concerns about TikTok

  • TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance and there have been concerns about how secure personal information is on the app
  • TikTok may recommend “harmful” content to young users, although TikTok does make an effort to redirect searches for subjects such as self-harm or eating disorders to suicide and crisis phone number (Source: Good Morning America)
  • The app boasts an “endless stream” of content for users to watch, which can promote addictive behavior in students
  • Social media challenges encourage students to create their own videos and sometimes include students being influenced by peer pressure to perform dangerous act(s) that can get them into legal trouble

Why do students want to be on TikTok?

  • It's a great way for students to express themselves creatively
  • TikTok connects friends and inspires creative things to try at home
  • TikTok moderators work to remove inappropriate videos in the app

Screen Time Addiction Tips for TikTok

  • TikTok is made to be addictive, so it is important to be intentional about how students are spending time on the app
  • Review screen time reports to know how much time you generally spend on your TikTok account
  • Parents and students should dialogue about a student’s responsibilities and where TikTok fits in, then decide together how much time is ok to spend on the app
  • Take advantage of Android's Digital Wellbeing and Apple's Screen Time settings or implement another screen time app to take control of screen time

Additional Information About TikTok

  • Users must set up an account to view content in the app; however, they can view content on a desktop without an account. Their friends may text them links to videos they can watch through the web browser on their phone
  • Like many social platforms, users can like, comment, save, and share posts
  • Students will talk about their favorite videos or popular videos with their friends at school and may view them on their friends’ phones, even if they aren't allowed to use the device during school hours
  • Students can create a second account using a different phone number or email address than their original account
  • The app offers Direct Messages. This feature is automatically disabled for users under the age of 16

What is TikTok rated?

Apple App iOS app Store Rating: 12+

Google Play Store Rating: T (Teen)

App Developer website: TikTok (based in China, owned by ByteDance)

Terms of Use

Privacy Policy

Common TikTok phrases/terms parents should know

  • FYP (#fyp): For Your Page—creators use this hashtag to increase views and brand visibility with the hopes of making it into other users’ FYP
  • IB: Inspired By—Usually used with an @ to tag the original creator
  • DC: Dance Credit—The user is giving credit to the original creator of the dance
  • POV: Point of View—A creator may tell the viewers how to watch the video
  • OOMF: One Of My Followers
  • Heather: Is usually meant to describe someone as gorgeous or desirable
  • Green screen: A backdrop that allows TikTok effects, photos, or images to appear
  • Accountant: Slang code word for being a sex worker or OnlyFans creator
  • P(star emoji): Porn Star
  • Simp: Insult to someone who goes out of their way to do things for someone they like and hope to start dating but ends up in the "friend" zone

2023 Community of Standards update

  • TikTok does say they remove content that they believe violates their Community Guidelines, but inappropriate videos still get posted on other platforms and are often seen thousands of times before they are removed
  • Drugs, controlled substances, alcohol, and tobacco are technically not allowed, but are very prevalent
  • Accounts for users under 16 cannot use direct messaging, host livestreams, and their content cannot appear in other users’ For You feed (but students often misrepresent their age when signing up)
  • Grooming behaviors are when an adult tries to build a relationship with a student to gain their trust. TikTok says they look for these types of interactions between adult accounts and minor accounts, BUT most predators work under minor aliases as part of their grooming tactic

Why should parents & educators care?

  • It’s easy for students to come across mature content or triggering content that could promote negative self esteem, self-harm, or eating disorders; such content can also cause a cyberbullying problem that can move offline
  • Accounts for students aged 13-15 are automatically set to private, and duet and stitch are disabled for users under age 16
  • Users cannot change their age on TikTok without talking to customer support; however, they can enter their age incorrectly when they initially set up their account
  • Students can find ways to prevent content from getting flagged and to bypass TikTok’s content filters by using creative hashtags and purposely misspelling words

Examples of TikTok dangers from the news

TikTok has more than a billion users. That includes about 150 million Americans. Under China’s authoritarian state, the government has sweeping control over tech companies and their data. U.S. officials are worried that China will use TikTok to promote its interests and gather Americans’ personal information. - The New York Times
The (TikTok) algorithm recognizes vulnerability and, instead of seeing it as something it should be careful around, it sees it as a potential point of addiction – of helping to maximize time on the platform for that child by serving them up content that might trigger some of the pre-existing concerns. - The Guardian
Ava Majury downloaded TikTok when she was 13…Ava noticed that one fan was trying to get her attention in comments on TikTok. He messaged her in Snapchat and on Instagram, and turned up in online games she played with her brothers… The fan was an 18 year old man who arrived with a shotgun at Ava’s family home. - The New York Times

Settings and Privacy Recommendations for TikTok

How to set your TikTok account to private

  • Select “Profile” then press the three lines in the top right corner
  • Click on "Settings and privacy" in your settings
  • Select “Privacy” and  slide “Private account” over until it turns blue

How to set your liked videos to private

  • Click on "Privacy" in your settings
  • Tap “ Liked videos”
  • Select “Only you”

How to turn off Stitch and Duet

Stitch and Duet are functions that allow user content to be reposted and shared by other users and can potentially be a source of cyberbullying. It is disabled for users under 16. Older users may still want to disable this setting.

  • Click on "Privacy" in your settings
  • Find “Duet” and “Stitch”
  • Select “Only me” on each of them

How to Limit Who Can Send Messages and Comment on TikTok Videos

  • Click on "Privacy" in your settings and then select “Comments”
  • Click the slider next to “Filter all comments” so that it turns blue
  • Click on “Comments” and select “Followers that you follow back.”  This will ensure students do not receive direct messages from strangers

Family Pairing

TikTok Family Pairing
  • Family Pairing through TikTok allows families to work together to set screen time limits and monitor what the teen can see
  • Family Pairing does require the adult to have an account on their own device, but even if you don’t use it every day, we always recommend parents being on the same apps as their kids 

From the parent’s TikTok account, Family Pairing can be used to help the student with:

  • Screen Time Management
  • Restricted Mode, which limits inappropriate content
  • Limits what content can be seen
  • When Restricted Mode is on the user cannot log out to then log into another account
  • Search

Go to Settings and privacy:

1: Scroll down and tap "Family Pairing”

2: Select the "Teen" option

3: Open TikTok on the parent’s phone and go to the Family Pairing screen in "Settings & Privacy"

4: Select "Parent"

5: Use your teen’s device to scan the QR code on the parent’s device or send an invite link to a phone number, email, or social media platform

Family Pairing Recommendations

  • Privacy and safety
  • Private account:Keep your account private until you are ready
  • Who can send direct messages to your teen: Our recommendation is “Friends” or “No one”
  • Who can view your teen’s liked videos: Our recommendation is “Only your teen”
  • Who can comment on your teen’s videos: Our recommendation is “Friends” or “No one”

Crash course in navigating TikTok for adults

Home screen

  • When in the “Home” section, videos will autoplay and repeat (until you scroll to the next video)
  • Tap the center of the screen to pause a video
  • Swipe up/down to change videos
  • Swipe left to view the profile for the video you are watching
  • Double tap the center of the screen or tap the heart to like a video

Friends Tab

  • “Friends” personalized feed dedicated to your friends’ videos
  • It contains TikTok videos from other users on TikTok who both follow you, and you follow back

Check and set up security alerts

1: Click on “Security” &  Select “Security alerts”

2: Select “Manage devices”

3: Select 2-step verification

Branding your TikTok profile

1: Start by branding your profile to put your best foot forward. Click on “profile” then “Edit Profile” to get started

‍2: Profile Photo: Use a clear smiling photo of yourself (the same photo across all of your accounts)

3: Name: Use the name you will use on your college admissions (or what you go by most often)

4: Username: Use something very similar to the name people will Google when they learn about you

5: Bio: Write 1-2 lines about yourself and possibly what school you attend (when you are ready for colleges to find you)

6: Connect your Instagram and YouTube: Optional adding links to your social profiles

Additional Resources

Positive Impact of Social Media & Screen Time (What Students, Parents, & Educators Need to Know)

Making Screen Time Fun While Reducing the Negative Impact

Instagram App Guide (2024): What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

Social Media Challenges: What Students, Parents & Educators Need to Know

Conclusion

TikTok is an extremely popular app among students. Parents can work with their students to find ways to use the app safely and in a way that fits with their family values. It is important to engage in a dialogue about appropriate ways to use TikTok, current social media challenges, and what to do in the event that students come across content that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Full Replay - Navigating TikTok (For Students, Parents, & Educators)

Why TikTok is Your New Resume (For Students, Parents, & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (SEL questions):

Getting Smart with TikTok

  • What are some hobbies or interests you might want to learn more about on TikTok?

Planning for Your Future

  • How can you start thinking now about things you might one day post on TikTok to share with colleges and employers your special interests and talents? 

Avoiding Predators

  • What would you do if someone you don’t know tried to communicate with you on TikTok? 

Parents & Educators of Elementary School Students (engagement questions):

Exploring Unique Interests

  • If you allow your child to use TikTok—or watch it along with them to keep it safe—what kinds of tips, skills, or knowledge could your student find on the platform? 

The Positives of TikTok

  • What are some positive ways people use TikTok? 

Setting an Example

  • Is there anything you’ve personally used TikTok to research or learn?  

Parents & Educators of Middle School Students (engagement questions): 

TikTok: Bad, Good, or “It Depends”?

  • Did this video change your perception of what TikTok offers, and in what ways? 

Mindful Use of Social Media

  • How can you engage your student in a discussion about presenting a positive image when they post on TikTok? 

Protecting Your Student on TikTok

  • What advice would you give your student about how to handle strangers trying to communicate with them on TikTok (or other social media apps)? 

High School Students (SEL questions): 

A Student’s Story

  • This video features a college student who built an online resume by sharing her story and accomplishments on TikTok. What specific things can you take away from her video? 

Making a Good Impression

  • What do you think college admissions officers or future employers would want to learn about you on TikTok? 

TikTok Turn-Offs

  • Conversely, what kinds of content might make them think twice before considering a prospective student/employee? 

Parents of High School Students (engagement questions):

What to Look For

  • What concerns do you have about your student being on TikTok?

Who’s Watching?

  • The video shared an example of a woman who lost her job after bragging on TikTok about rules she’d broken. Why do you think she assumed it wouldn’t come back to hurt her? 

Putting Their Best Foot Forward

  • How can you encourage your high-school student to be mindful of the image they present on TikTok?

Additional Resources

Positive Impact of Social Media & Screen Time (What Students, Parents, & Educators Need to Know)

Making Screen Time Fun While Reducing the Negative Impact

Instagram App Guide (2024): What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

Social Media Challenges: What Students, Parents & Educators Need to Know

Conclusion

TikTok is an extremely popular app among students. Parents can work with their students to find ways to use the app safely and in a way that fits with their family values. It is important to engage in a dialogue about appropriate ways to use TikTok, current social media challenges, and what to do in the event that students come across content that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Why TikTok is Your New Resume (For Students, Parents, & Educators)

How to Balance Screen Time on TikTok (For Students, Parents, & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (SEL questions)

TikTok and You

  • If you have access to TikTok, what do you mainly use it for? 

TikTok Time Warp

  • What are the risks of spending too much time on the app?

Finding a Purpose

  • How could you use it in a more focused way than just for entertainment? 

Parents & Educators of Elementary School Students (SEL questions) 

Too Young for TikTok? 

  • What age do you think is appropriate to let your kids have access to TikTok? 

Setting Healthy Boundaries

  • How can you limit the time your student spends on social media apps like TikTok?

Share Your Experience

  • As an adult, do you have the TikTok app, and have you ever felt sucked in by it? 

Middle School Students (SEL questions)

TikTok Tunnel Vision

  • What might be the problem with using TikTok only for escape / mindless entertainment? 

Where Does the Time Go?

  • If you’re on TikTok, how can you keep track of the time you spend on it? 

Finding Balance

  • How can you be mindful of balancing entertaining videos with useful/informative content where you’re focused on learning something new? 

Parents & Educators of Middle School Students (SEL questions) 

Getting Lost in the Scroll-iverse

  • How much time do you consider excessive on TikTok—for your student or for anyone? 

Setting Limits

  • What are some tools you can utilize to set limits on your student’s time on TikTok? 

TikTok Downsides

  • What risks do you worry about with kids spending too much time on TikTok? 

High School Students (SEL questions)

TikTok’s Business Model

  • How does TikTok benefit if you or your friends spend excessive time on the app?

Avoiding the Algorithm

  • How can the “Discover” tab lead people down a rabbit hole of mindless TikTok consumption? 

Time Tracking

  • How can you be aware of how much time you spend on TikTok and other social media apps?

Parents & Educators of High School Students (SEL questions) 

Hitting Pause

  • High school students enjoy more freedom now than when they were younger. How can you still remind them that too much social media can take away from other priorities? 

When TikTok Benefits

  • Why is TikTok designed to get users to stay on the app for as long as possible? 

Watching Wisely

  • Why is it important for people to be intentional about what they watch on TikTok?

Additional Resources

Positive Impact of Social Media & Screen Time (What Students, Parents, & Educators Need to Know)

Making Screen Time Fun While Reducing the Negative Impact

Instagram App Guide (2024): What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

Social Media Challenges: What Students, Parents & Educators Need to Know

Conclusion

TikTok is an extremely popular app among students. Parents can work with their students to find ways to use the app safely and in a way that fits with their family values. It is important to engage in a dialogue about appropriate ways to use TikTok, current social media challenges, and what to do in the event that students come across content that makes them feel uncomfortable.

How to Balance Screen Time on TikTok (For Students, Parents, & Educators)

What the Experts Say About TikTok (For Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Parent & Educators of Elementary School Students (engagement questions):

TikTok Together

  • What are some positive ways you can enjoy TikTok with your kids? 

It’s Okay to Be Bored

  • One of the video’s experts talked about the importance of putting down their devices. What are the benefits for kids of taking a break and finding other engagements away from screens?

A Different World

  • How does the ubiquitousness of social media, including TikTok, change your role and responsibilities as a parent?

Parent & Educators of Middle School Students (engagement questions):

Tell Me About It

  • What can you learn from having your child show you how TikTok works and what they like to watch? 

Here’s the Problem…

  • How can you help your students avoid socially, physically, or emotionally unsafe aspects of TikTok? 

Informing Yourself

  • What did you learn about TikTok from the video that might differ from your preconceptions? 

Parent & Educators of High School Students (engagement questions):

Helping Kids to Self-Regulate

  • High school students are nearing a time when they’ll be going to college and moving away from home. How can you model positive social media uses or otherwise prepare them to self-regulate their social-media use, knowing you won’t always be there to monitor it? 

An Open Dialogue

  • How can you initiate an ongoing conversation with your teenager about what they’re seeing on TikTok and how they’re using it? 

The Allure of Challenges

  • A challenge on TikTok might look like a dumb and dangerous idea to you—so why might your student or your students’ friends want to try it?

Additional Resources

Positive Impact of Social Media & Screen Time (What Students, Parents, & Educators Need to Know)

Making Screen Time Fun While Reducing the Negative Impact

Instagram App Guide (2024): What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

Social Media Challenges: What Students, Parents & Educators Need to Know

Conclusion

TikTok is an extremely popular app among students. Parents can work with their students to find ways to use the app safely and in a way that fits with their family values. It is important to engage in a dialogue about appropriate ways to use TikTok, current social media challenges, and what to do in the event that students come across content that makes them feel uncomfortable.

What the Experts Say About TikTok (For Parents & Educators)

Titania Jordan from Bark Discusses TikTok (For Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Parent & Educators of Elementary School Students (engagement questions)

Family Engagement

  • Why is it a good idea for parents of younger kids to use TikTok with their kids as a family activity rather than letting their kids access it on their own? 

The Negatives of TikTok

  • What concerns about TikTok mentioned in the video resonate the most for you as a parent? 

Knowing When to Stop

  • Why are time limits especially important with the TikTok app? 

Parents & Educators of Middle School Students (engagement questions):

TikTok Challenges

  • How can you warn your child about the potentially serious dangers of TikTok “challenges”? 

Commodifying your Students’ Time

  • What does it mean to say TikTok “gamifies” kids’ time spent on TikTok, and why should it concern parents and educators? 

TikTok vs. Snapchat

  • In the video, the expert talks about TikTok vs. Snapchat. What are some special concerns that parents should consider if their child wants to have a Snapchat account?

Parents & Educators of High School Students (engagement questions):

Identifying Bad Content

  • The expert also talks about the potential emotional harm of certain contents prevalent on TikTok. How can you help your child recognize content that presents false or dangerous information? 

Even Teens are Vulnerable

  • Why are even high school kids more vulnerable than we may think when it comes to unguarded exposure to TikTok? 

Knowing Predators’ Tricks

  • What are some ways predators can manipulate TikTok and other social media apps to get personal information about your student and try to build a relationship? 

Additional Resources

Positive Impact of Social Media & Screen Time (What Students, Parents, & Educators Need to Know)

Making Screen Time Fun While Reducing the Negative Impact

Instagram App Guide (2024): What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

Social Media Challenges: What Students, Parents & Educators Need to Know

Conclusion

TikTok is an extremely popular app among students. Parents can work with their students to find ways to use the app safely and in a way that fits with their family values. It is important to engage in a dialogue about appropriate ways to use TikTok, current social media challenges, and what to do in the event that students come across content that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Titania Jordan from Bark Discusses TikTok (For Parents & Educators)

Navigating TikTok Safety and Security (For Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Parents & Educators of Elementary School Students (engagement questions): 

When Risky Behavior Isn’t Funny

  • How can you explain to an elementary-school student that a prank or challenge they see online that looks funny may be dangerous? 

Staying Involved

  • Why are TikTok’s internal efforts to navigate kids away from some types of harmful content not enough to make your kids safe on this platform? 

The Red Zone

  • What types of content would you absolutely want your kids to steer clear of on TikTok?

Parents & Educators of Middle School Students (engagement questions)

TikTok Addiction?

  • TikTok features short videos—15 seconds to 3 minutes. What makes it potentially addictive, or at least hard to put away even when your student needs to focus on other priorities?

Family Pairing

  • What is Family Pairing, and how can it help you stay informed about what your student is seeing on TikTok or how much they’re on the app?

Who’s Safe and Who’s Not

  • How can you educate your student about the ways adult predators take advantage of kids on TikTok? 

Parents & Educators of High School Students (engagement questions):

Age-Appropriate Limits

  • What kinds of limits do you think are appropriate for a high-school student using TikTok? 

What is TikTok Showing Your Student?

  • What are the dangers around the way TikTok’s algorithm works? 

Having an Open Dialogue

  • How can you engage your student in a conversation about what they’re seeing on TikTok? 

These questions will guide parents, educators, and students  in discussing the positives and negatives of TikTok, and how to be an informed consumer of its content in order to make the most of its benefits while avoiding risks.

Additional Resources

Positive Impact of Social Media & Screen Time (What Students, Parents, & Educators Need to Know)

Making Screen Time Fun While Reducing the Negative Impact

Instagram App Guide (2024): What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

Social Media Challenges: What Students, Parents & Educators Need to Know

Conclusion

TikTok is an extremely popular app among students. Parents can work with their students to find ways to use the app safely and in a way that fits with their family values. It is important to engage in a dialogue about appropriate ways to use TikTok, current social media challenges, and what to do in the event that students come across content that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Navigating TikTok Safety and Security (For Parents & Educators)

An Example of What Kids See on TikTok (For Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Parents & Educators of Elementary School Students (engagement questions): 

See Something, Say Something

  • How can you encourage kids to tell you or another trusted adult about something they see online that isn’t appropriate?

Digital Prodigies

  • How surprised (if at all) were you that a fourth grader would accidentally discover a way around sites/apps that are blocked? 

Kids Can Be Heroes

  • What are some things you can say to your student to help them understand that even kids can help promote online safety (and why it matters)?

Parents & Educators of Middle School Students (engagement questions): 

Getting the Conversation Started

  • How did the principle in the video contribute to a student feeling comfortable sharing with him what he found online? 

A Surprise Discovery

  • What does the example in this video tell you about the need either to keep kids off TikTok or monitor what content they’re consuming? 

We’re All in This Together

  • How can you encourage students to become invested in good digital citizenship for themselves and their classmates, rather than seeing you as an obstacle to their enjoyment of popular apps? 

Parents & Educators of High School Students (engagement questions): 

Promoting an Open Dialogue

  • How can you keep an open dialogue with kids about what they see on social media so you can help keep them safe?

Looking Out for Peers

  • The student mentioned in the video wasn’t just reporting a safety issue he saw on TikTok; he was helping to protect other kids who might also see it. How can we get students to buy into the goal of working together to make the internet safer? 

Who to Tell

  • Who are some trusted adults with whom your teen might share something they see online that doesn’t seem right?

Additional Resources

Positive Impact of Social Media & Screen Time (What Students, Parents, & Educators Need to Know)

Making Screen Time Fun While Reducing the Negative Impact

Instagram App Guide (2024): What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

Social Media Challenges: What Students, Parents & Educators Need to Know

Conclusion

TikTok is an extremely popular app among students. Parents can work with their students to find ways to use the app safely and in a way that fits with their family values. It is important to engage in a dialogue about appropriate ways to use TikTok, current social media challenges, and what to do in the event that students come across content that makes them feel uncomfortable.

An Example of What Kids See on TikTok (For Parents & Educators)

TikTok Guide for Parents (2024): What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

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TikTok, a social media app dedicated to short-form videos, allows users to watch and create videos that are 15 to 60 seconds long. It is wildly popular among U.S. teens and young adults who enjoy watching and creating their own videos. The built-in video creation tools make it easy for users to add filters, songs, effects, and sound bites without any additional apps.

Students go to TikTok for comic relief, to escape from stress, learn “life hacks,” connect with influencers/celebrities, learn trending tips and tricks, practice video-editing skills, and stay current with world happenings. Students may run into inappropriate content while using the app, so it is important to have an open dialogue with your student so they know what to do if they get into an uncomfortable situation.

Educators and parents: Guide your students' reflection and discussion with this student worksheet. (Log in to your Google account and select File-->Make a Copy)

Top Concerns about TikTok

  • TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance and there have been concerns about how secure personal information is on the app
  • TikTok may recommend “harmful” content to young users, although TikTok does make an effort to redirect searches for subjects such as self-harm or eating disorders to suicide and crisis phone lines (Source: Good Morning America)
  • The app boasts an “endless stream” of content for users to watch, which can promote addictive behavior in students
  • Social media challenges encourage students to create their own videos and sometimes include dangerous act(s) that can get students into legal trouble

What students wish parents knew about TikTok? (video)

Why do students want to be on TikTok?

  • It's a great way for students to express themselves creatively
  • TikTok connects friends and inspires creative things to try at home
  • TikTok moderators work to remove inappropriate videos in the app

Why TikTok is your new resume and a place for students to learn new skills  (video)

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in the video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

How to balance screen time on TikTok so it becomes a positive instead of a negative (video)

(This student-friendly video can be shown in the classroom or at home)

Screen Time Addiction Tips for TikTok

  • TikTok is made to be addictive, so it is important to be intentional about how students are spending time on the app
  • Review  screen time reports to know how much time you generally spend on your TikTok account
  • Parents and students should dialogue about a student’s responsibilities and where TikTok fits in, then decide together how much time is ok to spend on the app 
  • Take advantage of Android's Digital Wellbeing and Apple's Screen Time settings or implement another screen time app to take control of screen time

What the experts say about TikTok  (video)

Titania Jordan from Bark Discusses TikTok  (video)

Navigating TikTok safety and security for parents and teachers (video)

Additional Information About TikTok

  • Users must set up an account to view content in the app; however, they can view content on a desktop without an account. Their friends may text them links to videos they can watch through the web browser on their phone
  • Like many social media platforms, users can  like, comment, save, and share posts
  • Students will talk about their favorite videos or popular videos with their friends at school and may view them on their friends’ phones, even if they aren't allowed to use the device during school hours
  • The app offers Direct Messages. This feature is automatically disabled for users under the age of 16

What is TikTok rated?

Apple App iOS app Store Rating: 12+

Google Play Rating: T (Teen)

App Developer website: TikTok (based in China, owned by ByteDance)

Terms of Use

Privacy Policy

Common TikTok phrases/terms parents should know

  • FYP (#fyp): For Your Page—creators use this hashtag to increase views and brand visibility with the hopes of making it into other users’ FYP
  • IB: Inspired By—Usually used with an @ to tag the original creator
  • DC: Dance Credit—The user is giving credit to the original creator of the dance
  • POV: Point of View—A creator may tell the viewers how to watch the video
  • OOMF: One Of My Followers
  • Heather: Is usually meant to describe someone as gorgeous or desirable
  • Green screen: A backdrop that allows TikTok effects, photos, or images to appear
  • Accountant: Slang code word for being a sex worker or OnlyFans creator
  • P(star emoji): Porn Star
  • Simp: Insult to someone who goes out of their way to do things for someone they like and hope to start dating but ends up in the "friend" zone

2023 Community of Standards Update

  • TikTok does say they remove content that they believe violates their Community Guidelines, but inappropriate videos still get posted on other platforms and are often seen thousands of times before they are removed
  • Drugs, controlled substances, alcohol, and tobacco are technically not allowed, but are very prevalent
  • Accounts for users under 16 cannot use direct messaging, host livestreams, and their content cannot appear in other users’ For You feed (but students often misrepresent their age when signing up)
  • Grooming behaviors are when an adult tries to build a relationship with a student to gain their trust. TikTok says they look for these types of interactions between adult accounts and minor accounts, BUT most predators work under minor aliases as part of their grooming tactic

Why should parents & educators care?

  • It’s easy for students to come across mature content or triggering content that could promote self-harm or eating disorders; such content can also cause a cyberbullying problem that can move offline
  • Accounts for students aged 13-15 are automatically set to private, and duet and stitch are disabled for users under age 16
  • Users cannot change their age on TikTok without talking to customer support; however, they can enter their age incorrectly when they initially set up their account
  • Students can find ways to prevent content from getting flagged and to bypass TikTok’s content filters by using creative hashtags and purposely misspelling words

Examples of TikTok dangers from the news

“TikTok has more than a billion users. That includes about 150 million Americans. Under China’s authoritarian state, the government has sweeping control over tech companies and their data. U.S. officials are worried that China will use TikTok to promote its interests and gather Americans’ personal information.” (Source: The New York Times)

“The (TikTok) algorithm recognises vulnerability and, instead of seeing it as something it should be careful around, it sees it as a potential point of addiction – of helping to maximize time on the platform for that child by serving them up content that might trigger some of the pre-existing concerns.” (Source: The Guardian)

The New York Times A Child's TikTok Stardom opens doors.  Then a gunman arrives
"Ava Majury downloaded TikTok when she was 13…Ava noticed that one fan was trying to get her attention in comments on TikTok. He messaged her in Snapchat and on Instagram, and turned up in online games she played with her brothers… The fan was an 18 year old man who  arrived with a shotgun at Ava’s family home." - The New York Times

Videos promoting drinking and alcohol are prevalent despite community guidelines:

Settings and Privacy Recommendations for TikTok

How to set your TikTok account to private

  • Select “Profile” then press the three lines in the top right corner
  • Click on "Settings and privacy" in your settings
  • Select “Privacy” and  slide “Private account” over until it turns blue

How to set your liked videos to private

  • Click on "Privacy" in your settings
  • Tap “Who can view your liked videos”
  • Select “Only me”

How to turn off Stitch and Duet

Stitch and Duet are functions that allow user content to be reposted and shared by other users and can potentially be a source of cyberbullying. It is disabled for users under 16. Older users may still want to disable this setting

  • Click on "Privacy" in your settings
  • Find “Duet” and “Stitch” under “Interactions”
  • Select “Only you” on each of them

How to limit who can send messages and comment on TikTok videos

  • Click on "Privacy" in your settings and then select “Comments”
  • Click the slider next to “Filtered all comments” so that it turns blue
  • Click on “Comments” and select “Followers you follow back”  This will ensure  students do not receive direct messages from strangers

Top safety settings in TikTok video

(This parent and educator video is best to be shown to adults)

Family Pairing

TikTok Family Pairing
  • Family Pairing through TikTok allows families to work together to set screen time limits and monitor what the teen can see
  • Family Pairing does require the adult to have an account on their own device, but even if you don’t use it every day, we always recommend parents being on the same apps as their kids 

From the parent’s TikTok account, Family Pairing can be used to help the student with:

  • Screen Time Management
  • Restricted Mode, which limits inappropriate content
  • Limits what content can be seen
  • When Restricted Mode is on the user cannot log out to then log into another account
  • Search

Go to Settings and privacy:

1: Scroll down and tap "Family Pairing”

2: Select the "Teen" option

3: Open TikTok on the parent’s phone and go to the Family Pairing screen in "Settings & Privacy"

4: Select "Parent"

5: Use your teen’s device to scan the QR code on the parent’s device or send an invite to link accounts

Family Pairing Recommendations

  • Privacy and safety
  • Private account:Keep your account private until you are ready
  • Who can send direct messages to your teen: Our recommendation is “Friends” or “No one”
  • Who can view your teen’s liked videos: Our recommendation is “Only your teen”
  • Who can comment on your teen’s videos: Our recommendation is “Friends” or “No one””

Crash course in Navigating TikTok for Adults

Home screen

  • When in the “Home” section, videos will autoplay and repeat (until you scroll to the next video)
  • Tap the center of the screen to pause a video
  • Swipe up/down to change videos
  • Swipe left to view the profile for the video you are watching
  • Double tap the center of the screen or tap the heart to like a video

Friends Tab

  • “Friends”  personalized feed dedicated to your friends’ videos
  • It contains TikTok videos from other users on TikTok who both follow you, and you follow back

Check and set up security alerts H3

1: Click on “Security”

2: Select “Security alerts”

3: Select “Manage devices”

4: Select 2-step verification

Branding your TikTok profile

1: Start by branding your profile to put your best foot forward. Click on “profile” then “Edit Profile” to get started

‍2: Profile Photo: Use a clear smiling photo of yourself (the same photo across all of your accounts)

3: Name: Use the name you will use on your college admissions (or what you go by most often)

4: Username: Use something very similar to the name people will Google when they learn about you

5: Bio: Write 1-2 lines about yourself and possibly what school you attend (when you are ready for colleges to find you)

6: Connect your Instagram and YouTube: Optional adding links to your social media profiles

Additional Resources

Positive Impact of Social Media & Screen Time (What Students, Parents, & Educators Need to Know)

Making Screen Time Fun While Reducing the Negative Impact

Instagram App Guide (2024): What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

Social Media Challenges: What Students, Parents & Educators Need to Know

Conclusion

TikTok is an extremely popular app among students. Parents can work with their students to find ways to use the app safely and in a way that fits with their family values. It is important to engage in a dialogue about appropriate ways to use TikTok, current social media challenges, and what to do in the event that students come across content that makes them feel uncomfortable.

More TikTok resources from SmartSocial

An example of what kids see on TikTok

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This TikTok course will help parents, students, & educators learn

  • Why kids like TikTok
  • Key words and phrases students use when talking about TikTok
  • How to have fun, get a laugh, learn a new tip or trick on TikTok--but set limits and practice sticking to them
  • How a hidden feature of TikTok might expose all of your videos to strangers, even if you think only your friends see them

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