Is TikTok safe for kids?

As a parent, I’ve started to become concerned about social media. Espcially TikTok. Although my son is only 2, I am already worrying about how…


As a parent, I’ve started to become concerned about social media. Espcially TikTok. Although my son is only 2, I am already worrying about how I will nagivate social media with him. I’ve had the impression that TikTok isn’t safe for children, or vulnerable adults for a long time so I wanted to do a bit of digging into it.

This blog post is just an overview of the issues I have with TikTok, I’m likely to write further articles going into detail some of these concerns.

Ensuring our children’s safety in the digital world should be a priority. With the rise of social media platforms like TikTok, it’s essential to understand the risks and implement strategies to protect our kids.

Parents, we need to stay informed and help our children navigate TikTok responsibly.

Text says: 's tiktok safe for kids?' with an image of a child holding a phone with the TikTok logo on

1. Understanding TikTok

TikTok is a video-sharing app that allows users to create and watch short videos with music, filters, and various effects. Launched in 2016 and merged with in 2018, TikTok has become extremely popular among Gen Z, with over 3 billion downloads worldwide. The app has an age limit of 13 years, but younger users often bypass this restriction by entering false birthdates during registration.

What Types of Content Are on TikTok?

TikTok offers a wide range of content, including:

  • Dance and lip-sync videos
  • Comedy skits and challenges
  • DIY and life hacks
  • Fashion and beauty trends
  • Fitness and health tips
  • News and current events

The app’s personalised algorithm tailors the user’s feed based on their interests and viewing habits, making the content highly addictive and engaging. There’s been lots of coverage lately about the algorithm serving dangerous content to adults, such as topics about self-harm, eating disorders, suicide and guns. But more on that in a different post.

2. TikTok Age Limit and Account Settings for Minors

TikTok has an age limit of 13 years (I personally think this is too young), meaning children under this age should not use the app. But we all know kids, and I’m sure you won’t be surprised to find out that it’s not uncommon for younger users to create accounts by providing false birthdates. To address this issue, TikTok introduced a “younger user” section that offers curated content for users under 13, with more restrictions on interactions and video creation.

It’s crucial for parents to ensure their child’s account is set up with the correct birthdate and review the app’s privacy settings to limit their exposure to inappropriate content and interactions.

3. TikTok Parental Controls

TikTok offers several parental control features to help parents monitor and manage their child’s app usage. The “Family Pairing” feature allows parents to link their accounts to their children, enabling them to control direct messages, set screen time limits, and restrict content. Additionally, the “Digital Wellbeing” setting allows parents to set restrictions on their child’s account, block inappropriate content, and manage screen time.

To access these controls, go to your child’s profile, click on the three dots in the upper right corner, and select “Settings and Privacy.”

TikTok Privacy Settings

In the “Privacy and Safety” section of the settings, parents can:

  • Set the account to private, allowing only approved followers to view videos
  • Disable the option for others to find your child
  • Control who can send direct messages, comment on videos, or create duets with your child
  • Set a passcode to prevent your child from changing these settings

How to set up Family Pairing

  • In the TikTok app, tap Profile at the bottom.
  • Tap the Menu button at the top.
  • Tap Settings and Privacy, then tap Family Pairing.
  • Tap Parent or Teen.
  • Follow the steps in the app to link accounts.

Remember that these privacy settings won’t prevent exposure to inappropriate content or cyberbullying from approved followers. Please be aware that many children will have burner accounts without their parents knowledge, these may even be on friends devices.

4. TikTok Inappropriate Content and Dangers for Children

Despite its age limit and privacy settings, TikTok can still expose children to various risks and inappropriate content, such as:

  • Sexual or violent content
  • Dangerous challenges and stunts
  • Discriminatory or offensive commentary
  • Misleading or harmful information

As parents, we need to maintain an open dialogue with our children about the content they encounter on TikTok and encourage them to report any harmful or inappropriate material.

Child holding a phone clicking on the tiktok icon

5. TikTok Cyberbullying and Online Harassment

Cyberbullying is a significant concern on social media platforms, including TikTok. The app’s features like “Duets,” “Reactions,” and commenting can be exploited by bullies to harass, ridicule, or troll other users. To protect your child from cyberbullying, review their account’s privacy settings and encourage open communication about their online experiences. The introduction of image, video and voice AI are also another concern. Bullies may use your childs content to create deepfakes or other images/videos of your child.

6. TikTok Mental Health Impact and Addiction

TikTok’s addictive nature can have negative effects on children’s mental health. The pressure to gain popularity and create engaging content can lead to anxiety, low self-esteem, and even depression, especially if they face negative feedback or cyberbullying. Additionally, excessive screen time on TikTok may contribute to sleep disturbances, poor academic performance, and reduced physical activity.

If you let your children have a TikTok account, you should set boundaries and monitor your children’s TikTok usage, ensuring they maintain a healthy balance between online and offline activities.

7. TikTok Challenges and Potential Risks

TikTok challenges are popular among users, often involving dance routines, pranks, or other creative tasks. While many challenges are harmless and fun, some can pose significant risks to children, such as dangerous stunts, harmful substances, or inappropriate behaviour. Parents should stay informed about trending challenges and discuss the risks with their children to promote responsible participation.

TikTok’s blackout challenge has been linked to the death of 20 children, 15 of which were under 12. Now, if that doesn’t terrify you, I don’t know what will.

8. TikTok Data Privacy and Security Concerns

TikTok collects user data, including device ID, browser type, IP address, and app usage information. This data can be shared with third-party service providers and business partners. In the past, TikTok faced a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fine for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting children’s information without parental consent. It was fined £12.7 million for failing to protect children’s data.

To protect your child’s data privacy, ensure their account settings comply with TikTok’s age limit, and review the app’s privacy policy.

9. TikTok Guidelines for Parents

To help your child safely navigate TikTok, consider the following guidelines:

  • Delay allowing your child to have TikTok for as long as possible.
  • Discuss the risks and responsibilities of using TikTok with your child
  • Ensure your child’s account is set up with the correct birthdate
  • Review and adjust the privacy settings on your child’s account
  • Monitor your child’s activity and screen time on TikTok
  • Encourage open communication about their experiences and concerns on the app
  • Stay informed about trending challenges and discuss potential risks
  • Teach your child about digital citizenship and online safety practices
Text says: 's tiktok safe for kids?' with an image of a child holding a phone with the TikTok logo on

10. Leveraging TikTok’s Creative Potential

Despite its risks, TikTok can also be a platform for creativity, self-expression, and learning. By implementing safety measures and maintaining open communication, parents can empower their children to use TikTok responsibly and explore its positive aspects but there are way more concerns than benefits. In my opinion, it’s better to keep your child off social media for as long as possible.

I understand that may be a challenge, especially if your childs friends are on TikTok and they feel left out Hopefully the tips above will help you navigate some rules and openness around this social media. Solidarity to all parents trying to protect their children from the dangers of social media.


  1. I definitely don’t think it is safe for children! If it had been around when I was in my teens, it definitely would have worsened my bad mental health x

  2. My daughter recently turned 13 so social media is starting to become a hot topic. Fortunately, she’s very sensible and although I trust her judgement, I’m also quite concerned about what she will have access to. Bookmarking this post for future reference, thank you.

  3. I think before they rebranded to TikTok and were it was definitely safe for kids (to an extent) because it was just a lip syncing app, TikTok as it is now is absolutely not safe for children. I’ve seen so many triggering videos for an array of topics that I really don’t think is suitable for young children; my kids won’t be allowed access to social media until I think they’re old enough though and if TikTok is still operating by the time they’re old enough it falls under that umbrella for this reason. I don’t think any amount of parental controls is enough tbh because there’s always a way through it. I also think you hit the nail on the head re:cyber bullying, TikTok is the worst for it, the comments are literally savage and I think damaging for young audiences.

  4. In my opinion, this is the platform that creates the most risks for children. It is not safe to use as they are exposed to harmful content which twists their way of thinking. Thanks for raising this issue!

  5. This provides some great information and tips for parents about TikTok (and for general users as well); I think social media like this now plays such a significant role in our lives (both directly and indirectly with how it influences social culture, etc) that we have to be very mindful of its grasp. Fantastic post!

  6. Nice comprehensive discussion of the platform. My boys are in their mid-20s now – but I remember worrying about them in all ways online. I think parents should assume their kids have access to TikTok at some point in their regular week. Your emphasis on communication is great!

  7. Social media must be a huge issue for parents today, especially as there are so many different channels out there. I think making an informed choice is super important, and this is a very comprehensive guide to understanding TikTok – the platform does worry me, especially its addictive nature. I think this will be a helpful post for other parents, too x

  8. I didn’t know about the Blackout Challenge but that’s absolutely terrifying. I don’t use TikTok myself, so I wouldn’t want my metaphorical kids to use it either really. There are so many risks with social media these days, it’s terrifying to think about!

  9. I always remind my mom to let my little brother away from TikTok. It has some videos can’t be watched by kids. Very informative!

  10. This is such a good article! So many things to think about I think it must be so hard to be a parent these days especially with bullying, filters, and really dangerous challenges at such an impressionable age. This is a super great guide I will definitely give it more thought.. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Like many things when it comes to parenting, you know what’s right for your kid. But I always have thought, if your kids engage with it, you should as well. This is a very informative article for parents who might not know what exactly TikTok is. Of course kids will want to be involved, so parents really need to know what it is and what their kids might be exposed to, at least so we can be prepared to have difficult conversations when they arise!

  12. I don’t have a child yet, but I already think this is a minefield when it comes to how to protect children. This was a really relatable post. I am sure many parents will also be able to relate well to these concerns. This is a helpful post. Thank you for sharing.

    Lauren – bournemouthgirl

  13. If I ever have children, I wouldn’t let them use TikTok. There’s such a wide range of content on there, a lot is not suitable for children. The Blackout challenge is absolutely terrifying and it’s scary that children have tried it x

    Lucy |

  14. Thanks for raising awareness of such an important topic. I don’t think it’s safe for children. It impacts my mental health sometimes & I have a pretty thick skin these days.

  15. Oh gosh! It’s such a minefield isn’t it. I definitely worry about social media and the kids growing up. I worry a lot about body image too. I think you’re right about opening up conversations, and probably the earlier you can do it the better. It’s worrying with TikTok especially that although there’s algorithms in place, you don’t really know what’s coming next. Definitely a concern when kids are involved. I’ve heard a few horror stories about this and YouTube too. It’s so tricky!

  16. I have a funny relationship with TikTok. Some days I like it, some days it’s a bit overwhelming for me. I flipflop about sharing things, more personal things, because it feels massive!

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