Guest Post: Supporting Youth And Families On TikTok

By Tracy Elizabeth, Global Minor Safety Policy Lead, and Alexandra Evans, Head of Child Safety Public Policy, Europe

Parenting a teen’s digital life can be daunting, and we often hear that parents and other caregivers feel as though they’re playing catch up when it comes to the latest technology and apps their teens use. That’s why we regularly speak to parents and teens and work with family and youth experts to develop meaningful ways for parents to support their teens on TikTok. Our aim is to strike a balance between safety and autonomy for teenagers as we work to create a safe and supportive place for self-expression. 

With that in mind, earlier this year we introduced Family Pairing, which lets parents link their TikTok account to their teen’s to enable a variety of content and privacy settings. We’ve now expanded this feature to give parents greater oversight and families a more robust set of tools to create the TikTok experience that’s right for them.  

Using Family Pairing, parents can help guide their teen’s browsing experience with the following controls: 

  • Search [NEW]: Decide whether your teen can search for content, users, hashtags, or sounds
  • Screen Time Management: Set how long your teen can spend on TikTok each day
  • Restricted Mode: Limit the appearance of content that may not be appropriate for a general audience in your teen’s For You feed

As young people start to build a presence online, we believe it’s important to give families tools so parents and teens can set guardrails together. Our expanded Family Pairing feature now includes:

  • Comments [NEW]: Decide who can comment on your teen’s videos (everyone, friends, no one)
  • Discoverability [NEW]: Decide whether your teen’s account is private (your teen decides who can see their content) or public (anyone can search and view content)
  • Liked Videos [NEW]: Many people enjoy finding new videos to watch that others they follow have also enjoyed, but this control empowers families to decide whether others can see the list of videos your teen has liked
  • Direct Messages: Restrict who can send messages to your teen, or turn off direct messaging completely. With user safety in mind, we also have many policies and controls on messaging. For example, direct messaging is automatically disabled for those under 16 and images and videos cannot be sent in messages.

Every family is different. 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. Whatever parents and teens decide is right for them, we hope Family Pairing will encourage families to have broader conversations about digital safety.

In addition to our tools for families, we continue to strengthen our youth safety and well-being policies. For instance, we recently added more guidelines and resources to support body positivity in our community, and we remove harmful content like hateful ideologies.

We’ve also developed global partnerships to protect against child exploitation as we remove such content, terminate accounts, and report cases the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and law enforcement. Protecting minors – online and offline – is vitally important and requires collaboration between platforms, governments, and child safety organizations. That’s why we’ve endorsed implementation of the Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, which offers a framework that can be consistently applied across digital sectors and services to respond to changing behaviors and protect young people.

For families who want to learn more about online safety, we’ve created a number of resources, including our Youth PortalParents pageeducational safety videos, and more. We’re committed to the safety of our community – especially youth – on TikTok and will continue to develop resources, tools, and policies as we aim for the highest level of safety.

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