Kids are obsessed with TikTok. So are predators.

Instagram and Snapchat are sooo 2019. Today it’s all about TikTok, the Beijing-based streaming app that has upwards of 500 million active users. Problem is, kids aren't the only ones who can’t keep away.

A recent investigation found children as young as eight were being groomed on TikTok - and young users were being bombarded by explicit messages. Experts warn that the company's casual attitude toward cyber safety poses the biggest threat of all.

What should you do if your child sees upsetting material online? Join us for this online Masterclass as we discuss how to report it, how to talk to your child about it, and, how to prevent it from happening again - click here for times & dates

TikTok is used by kids mainly to create and share lip-synching and dancing videos to popular music. But it also has a direct message feature and invites live streaming and public commenting.

Its popularity has soared in recent months, fuelled partly by Instagram’s decision to conceal the number of “likes” posts attract. TikTok zoomed in to fill that gap for young users desperate to gauge their social standing with peers.

Playgrounds for predators

Wherever children go, paedophiles and predators follow. That’s the sad truth of the online world we live in.

YouTube and Snapchat, and even games like Roblox, Fortnite and Minecraft, have all - to some extent - been infiltrated by creepy adult users looking to groom, watch or otherwise interact with potential child victims.

But what sets TikTok apart is its troubling disregard of users’ cyber safety.

Safety measures that don’t measure up

“TikTok does not have the same safety features as some of the more well-known apps and does not routinely remove accounts that have been flagged as potentially those of a predator,” warns Family Zone cyber expert Susan McLean, an  internationally acclaimed expert on social media with a long and distinguished career in law enforcement.

TikTok’s developers explain on the website that, yes, parents can set their child’s profile to “private.” But the site goes on to admit that “even with a private account, profile information – including profile photo, username, and bio – will be visible to all users.”

tiktokflag

The US Navy has banned TikTok from government-issued mobile devices, citing security concerns. Australia's Department of Defence has now followed suit.

Major privacy concerns

Instead of instituting measures to keep users safe and their details private, TikTok passes the buck to mums and dads, encouraging them to “counsel” their children about revealing their age, address or phone number.

“TikTok also received the biggest fine in US history for gathering data on kids and selling it,” McLean says. But even that $8 million penalty would have been a drop in the bucket for a company worth more than $110 billion.

Security fears around the app have even prompted both the Australian and US governments to ban its use by their armed forces.

A TikTok spokesperson told The Daily Mail, 'In our Safety Centre we offer a library of educational resources for teens and their families, including safety educational videos and a safety blog series.”

Exactly how many views - let alone “likes” -  those safety videos have received remains an open question. 

Confront The Confronting webinar - Select a time


Topics: Parental Controls, Screen time, Mobile Apps, Social Media, cyberbullying, online predators, tiktok

    Try Family Zone for FREE

    Sign up now to try Family Zone for 1 month, totally free of charge.

    Free Trial
    Subscribe to our newsletter
    Follow us on social media
    Popular posts
    Parental Controls | Cyber Safety | Cyber Experts | parenting | roblox
    Roblox: What parents must know about this dangerous game for kids
    Parental Controls | online gaming | Social Media | primary school | krunker
    Krunker has landed - and it's got our kids in the crosshairs
    Parental Controls | Screen time | online gaming | roblox | sleep
    Family Zone: Now blocking Roblox with a single click
    Parental Controls | Screen time | teens on social media | wellbeing | dating app
    Swipe right for trouble: Six teen dating apps parents need to know about
    Parental Controls | Screen time | Mobile Apps | online safety | cyberbullying | privacy | Houseparty | pornbombing | data mining
    "Houseparty" is off the hook right now: What parents need to know
    Parental Controls | Screen time | online gaming | Fortnite | discord
    Discord: What parents need to know

    Recent posts

     
    Got learning devices? Get 'em ready for back-to-school starting NOW

    The start of a new school year is the perfect time to introduce boundaries and reinforce responsibilities around kids’ device use. But ...

     
    How 'phubbing' hurts our relationships - and what to do about it

    A growing body of research shows how the habit of looking at our phones - not the people around us - is affecting our relationships in ...

     
    Screen-time and sleep (or lack thereof): What the science tells us

    Getting a good night’s sleep, it seems, is going the way of AM radio and dial-up internet. But are screens really to blame? We examine the ...

     
    New year, new smartphone: What your teen needs to know

    So your teen got her heart’s desire for Christmas: a smartphone all her own. Now it’s time for a serious upgrade to her cyber safety.