Even if you haven’t been on TikTok, you probably know that the app is full of teens, and teens, in general, don’t always have the best judgement. In light of that, the platform unveiled a bevvy of new parental controls today geared towards keeping the millions of teens on the platform safe from the creeps, or at least giving parents some fleeting sense of control.
These updates, which the company unveiled in a blog post earlier today, are an expansion of the preexisting parental control features that TikTok first rolled out back in April. Family Pairing, as it’s called, was introduced as a way to let parents manage their teen’s screen time and keep tabs on the content they can access. Now, those controls are a bit more granular, if a bit light on giving teens the “autonomy” TikTok promises.
Take, for example, the new ability for parents to strip the search bar from their kid’s TikTok interface, removing the option to seek out new content or hashtags — or hell, find their friends from school. Parents also now have the ability to decide who can comment on their teen’s videos (everyone, just their friends, or nobody at all), which might help keep creepy commenters away, but also comes with the risk of shutting that same teen off from the app’s core community.
There’s other updates, too: Parents can now decide whether a teen’s account is private — that is, only surfacing for a select few — or public, which means anyone can search or watch their content. Parents can also decide whether the videos that their teen “likes” should be public or not. And perhaps most importantly, Family Pairing now includes the option to restrict or entirely remove their teen’s ability to direct message within the app.
“Every family is different,” the blog post reads. “Some may choose to use Family Pairing only when their teen starts on TikTok; others may choose to stay connected to their teen’s account for longer; and even without Family Pairing enabled, teens can always take advantage of these tools by selecting them individually through their app settings.”
It’s worth noting that aside from these new parent-friendly options that TikTok introduced in the name of keeping their children safe, there’s also a kid-friendly version of its app for the under-13 crowd. “TikTok for Younger Users” is a view-only — and COPPA compliant — version of the app that was created last year in response to the whopping $US5.7 ($8) million dollar fine that the FTC issued onto the company for hoovering data from its younger users, and violating children’s data protections in the process.
In the past, TikTok has proven that it’s not always the most reliable when it comes to kicking creeps off of its massive platform. That means even if teens might not be too amenable to having their digital lives restricted, doing a bit to tamper their online presence has the chance to keep them safe. Then again, teens have probably already figured out a way around Family Pairing without raising the guardians’ suspicions.