Before you say “yes” to TikTok, consider whether you are prepped and ready. Make sure you’ve had conversations about hard topics they will encounter in TikTok, like sexting, pornography, and cyberbulling, to name a few. Check out the full list of topics to cover by downloading the guide.
Learn WHY they want TikTok. The reason most teens and tweens like TikTok is because their friends are on it; they don’t want to be the only ones who don’t know what everyone’s talking about. Most kids also are intrigued by the chance to get famous or, at the very least, get other people’s attention. But consider this: Growing your fanbase is much easier to do when your account is public than when it is private. If fanbase numbers appeal to your kids, they will likely be tempted to keep their account public, which makes them vulnerable to online predators. Talk to your kid about how they will protect themselves while using the app, and make sure they know that once a video is posted as public, it cannot be deleted from the TikTok servers.
If you are ready to say yes to TikTok, plan to log some hours in the passenger seat, coaching them through the thrills and hazards of their new app.
When you download, it is important to set strong limits and release them slowly. Why? Because once you’ve set them free, it will be much harder to pull in the reins. Check out our Parent Guide for a list of TikTok features and activities to limit at first.
Consider kicking off their TikTok download with a fun activity: block out a couple of hours to “co-create” a story or video as a family. Have fun with it! Choose a theme (Christmas, Hamilton, Star Wars), download a song, and invite the whole family to make a music video. This initiation activity will give you the perfect opportunity to see what hazards they will run into, and train them how to respond first-hand. When you run into inappropriate content? Help them make a plan to avoid it, and to come to you for help. Thinking about public with your video? Talk about followers and views—are they worth compromising your safety? Take a peek at the emojis for purchase in the Wallet section, and talk about why people would spend a good chunk of money to send emojis to strangers. Our parent guide includes some additional great topics to check in on as you spend time coaching your tween or teen through the dicey world of TikTok.
As they merge into TikTok traffic, it is important to stay connected to your child. A simple conversation starter could be asking them about the latest “challenges” that are trending for teens. For example, one challenge, #eatonthebeat, encourages users to make videos of themselves chomping down on food to the beat of a song. Another challenge, #chooseyourcharacter, encourages users to mimic a video game’s character selection screen.Then there are the running jokes attached to specific songs — like “Good Girls Bad Guys,” a song by the band Falling in Reverse, which is used for a genre of video in which a user appears first in nerdy, unattractive clothes, and then cuts abruptly to a made-over version of himself in sunglasses, leather jackets or other bad-boy attire. And despite TikTok’s teens-only vibe, you might enjoy checking out the feeds of adults who have jumped on board. Jimmy Fallon, the late-night TV host, recently joined the site and started posting his own challenges. The comedian Amy Schumer recently made a TikTok video, and prominent YouTubers like Jake Paul have tested the waters. The feeds of these influencers can be great conversation starters, and help you connect with your tween or teen about their digital world.
Just a reminder, on the TikTok highway, accidents are bound to happen! Over and over, assure your child that you are safe harbor, and you will not freak out when they share shocking stories with you.
Questions about the app itself? The Parent’s Guide to TikTok covers all sorts of things you need to know to be their “Roadside Assistance.”