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.

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. 

 

Manage TikTok - or block it with a single click - with Family Zone's smart, flexible parental controls.

 

 

Tell me more!

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 | Screen time | Mobile Apps | musical.ly | Social Media | tiktok | child development | self-harm | sexualisation
    One mum's jaw-dropping journey through TikTok
    Parental Controls | Cyber Safety | Cyber Experts | parenting | roblox
    Roblox: What parents must know about this dangerous game for kids
    Parental Controls | Pornography | Cyber Safety | Social Media | parenting | digital parenting
    Pornstar to parents: shame on you!
    Parental Controls | Screen time | musical.ly | online predators | tiktok
    It's the world's most popular app. And you've probably never heard of it.
    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 | online gaming | Social Media | primary school | krunker
    Krunker has landed - and it's got our kids in the crosshairs

    Recent posts

     
    "Houseparty" is off the hook right now: What parents need to know

    Teen-targeted video-chatting app Houseparty has exploded over the past two weeks, as housebound kids turn to their screens to connect with ...

     
    The "new normal" brings new online risks for kids

    In these difficult times, protecting your family’s health is a 24/7 commitment - and it’s not only their physical wellbeing you need to ...

     
    "Never let a good crisis go to waste"

    Winston Churchill’s famous observation - made during the bleakest days of World War II - have a lot to teach us today, as we grapple with ...

     
    Juggling screen-time in the Age of Coronavirus, and other feats of extreme parenting

    Chances are good both you and your partner are now working from home - and quite possibly trying to home-school the kids at the same time. ...