**Updated November 25, 2020**
TikTok Parental Controls are (Already) Decent
Parents are often surprised to learn that when compared to Instagram or Snapchat, TikTok is actually the only major social platform with parental controls. Meaning, features or functions that a parent can lock in with a 4-digit code in their Digital Wellbeing section (Settings > 3 dots in upper right > scroll down to Digital Wellbeing).
We still don’t like TikTok. There’s something so incredibly addictive about this app, along with the horrible challenges we’ve seen during the pandemic. Teenagers are often better off without it and we would just prefer that families wait as long as possible (age 15+)
But for parents who have allowed it, it’s so important that they understand how the parental controls work!
TikTok’s Digital Wellbeing settings for time control and content restrictions sit behind a 4-digital pin and have been in place for a while. What’s new, is Family Pairing.
How Family Pairing Works on TikTok
This is the big change. Parents can now choose to pair their device with their kid’s device in order to control the Digital Wellbeing, Privacy, and Safety settings remotely. Parents will do this by scanning a QR code on the kid’s TikTok account. Kids can remove the pairing, but parents will be notified.
This “pairing” feature was updated in November 2020 to include all of the Privacy and Safety settings, which is really important. You can find Family Pairing here:
Specifically, parents can:
- Set your child’s profile to private
- Restrict duets (which is when someone grabs your TikTok and sings alongside in their own version)
- Toggle off the search tool
- Limit comments on your child’s videos
- Enable comment restrictions
- Turn off the ability for other users to see your child’s “likes”
- Enable content restrictions with Restricted Mode
- Set a daily time limit with Digital Wellbeing
- Limit direct messages (DMs), which are unavailable for children under 16 – get that birthday correct!
This is a great model. Forcing interaction and (hopefully) conversation about app usage and digital citizenship (a man can dream, right?!). But, having parents interact with their kids in order to enable controls is a really good idea.
Family Pairing, which will be rolling out over the coming weeks, will allow a parent to link their TikTok account to their teen’s and set controls including:
Screen Time Management: Control how long your teen can spend on TikTok each day. In addition, TikTok has partnered with top creators to make short videos that appear right in the app and encourage users to keep tabs on their screen time. These fun videos use the upbeat tone our users love while offering a suggestion to take a break and do something offline, like read a book.
Restricted Mode: Limit the appearance of content that may not be appropriate for all audiences. Even without Family Pairing enabled, parents can help their teen set Screen Time Management and Restricted Mode by visiting the app’s Digital Wellbeing controls at any time.
Direct Messages: Restrict who can send messages to the connected account, or turn off direct messaging completely. With user safety in mind, we have many policies and controls in place for messaging already – for example, only approved followers can message each other, and we don’t allow images or videos to be sent in messages. Starting April 30, we will be taking those protections one step further as relates to younger members of our community, and automatically disabling Direct Messages for registered accounts under the age of 16.
Interestingly, we received the following notification on our teenage test account, which uses an age 13 birthday, affirming the DM change noted above:
Which leads us to a big question – is TikTok all that bad? Its content is no worse than Instagram. Its features are like the other two. It DOES have the “be a star” issue and the videos are highly addictive (even for me!). And even though I don’t plan to say yes to either of them, if I had to give one to my daughter, I think I would select TikTok. The decision is yours! Our complete TikTok app review might also be helpful.
Now What? Have you Heard of Protect?
We built the Protect App at PYE because we knew that some parents are too busy for long blog posts and are overwhelmed with the idea of keeping their kids safe online. The mini-lessons and easy-to-read panels in Protect were built with busy, awesome, intentional parents like you in mind! Download it for free today!
*There may be affiliate links throughout this post because we’ve tested and trust a small list of parental control solutions. Our work saves you time! If you decide that you agree with us, then we may earn a small commission, which does nothing to your price. Enjoy!
Chris McKenna, Founder: A man with never-ending energy when it comes to fighting for the safety and protection of children. Chris practices his internet safety tips on his four amazing children and is regularly featured on news, radio, and podcasts for his research. His 2019 US Senate Judiciary Committee testimony was the catalyst for draft legislation and ongoing discussion that could radically change online child protection laws and earned PYE the NCOSE Dignity Defense Alert Award in 2020. The PYE team has performed over 1,700 presentations at schools, churches, and nonprofits and was featured in the Childhood 2.0 movie. Other loves include running, spreadsheets, nature, and candy.