Los Angeles Nannies

What is TIKTOK?

What is tiktok
As a Nanny Agency made up of millennials, we like to think of ourselves experts on two things: kids and social media. Growing up we beta tested MySpace, Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat and like to think of ourselves as both social media savvy and technologically capable of staying safe on the internet. However, one thing still eludes us: TikTok. It seems TikTok is a seemingly harmless platform made for kids and teens to share and watch quick videos of dances and learn how to do pranks on their parents. But like all things on the internet, it can be exploited by people with ulterior motives. So what is TikTok? We don’t know. But we can tell you what we do know about the company, it’s technology, and how you can ensure that your kids stay safe while using it.

The Basics

TikTok is a free social networking app designed to allow users to create and share original videos. The social aspect surrounds the ability to follow other accounts and like, comment and share videos. The capacity for videos and accounts to go viral is large on TikTok, and many new household names have appeared from popular accounts on the app. TikTok is a fun way for kids to get creative, learn the basics of cinematography, get exercise from learning viral dances, and occasionally learn unique life hacks, science experiments or history facts. Like all social media, TikTok is not inherently good nor evil, but it’s the way in which it’s used that can become dangerous or beneficial for kids.

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In 2019 TikTok settled for millions after federal regulators charged it with violating the children’s privacy law. TikTok does not have an age limit in order to use the app. When signing up for an account, TIkTok asks that users input their birthdays. Kids who are truthful and sign up as 13 and under, receive curated, clean videos and aren’t allowed to post, comment or search. This is obviously not any fun, however, and kids can easily be remedy this by inputting a false birthday. Accounts can be made private, but that only limits who can watch your kids, and not what your kids can watch. TikTok does have parental controls where adults can manage screen time, block inappropriate content and disable direct messaging. However, kids are smart and know they can simply undo whatever their caretakers set up for them or simply delete and re-download the app. So what can parents and caregivers do to keep their kids safe on TikTok?

If you can’t beat them join them

The easiest way to make sure your kids are staying safe on TikTok is by joining them in the fun. If you set strict boundaries condemning their online use, that will only drive them to sneak around you, which in the end could get them into more harm than good. Instead, monitor your kids on TikTok by getting involved. Showing that you are interested in their interests, rather than shaming them or punishing them, not only fosters their confidence and creates a healthy relationship with social media, but also allows you both to create a new opportunity for a shared experience. As they say, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. The closer you can be to your child’s TikTok usage, the safer they will be and the more informed you are. Not only will you appear way cooler than other caregivers, but the trust you form by accepting their interests rather than trying to control them, will set up a life-long foundation of dependability.

TikTok Challenges

The average TikTok feed is full of viral challenges that each user has the opportunity to get creative with. Challenges can be dances, songs, or activities that encourage users to copy in their own unique way. It’s a really fun way for kids to exercise their creativity. Many schools have cut funding for music, art and dance, and TikTok is a platform that can immerse kids in their interests by providing project-like opportunities for them to express themselves that they wouldn’t get in school. The downside to this is that the praise or rejection they receive on their self expression is very tangible in terms of likes, views and comments. This social transparency is another reason why it’s a good idea to have an open dialogue with your kids so you can talk about this praise/rejection ratio in a healthy way that allows them to learn both resilience and confidence. 
Engaging in a TikTok challenge with your child is an awesome opportunity to get creative together. Get the blood flowing by learning a dance. Get creative by trying a science challenge. Offer to hold the camera while they do their thing. Use it as an opportunity to let them direct you and learn leadership skills. Show them that what they are doing matters. By encouraging them in their creative pursuits, you are setting them up for a life time of success by saying “I see you and value you”. You may think that something as silly as a social media app wouldn’t have that big of an impact on your child’s personal development, but to a child, these creative pursuits are their way of feeling seen in the world and learning their place in it. Whatever the challenge is that sparks your kids creativity, do it together and enjoy the opportunity to strengthen your bond.

So what is TikTok?

We still couldn’t tell you. But what we can tell you is that being present in social media is the new way of the world, and it’s important for your kids to feel like they can be part of the pack, in their own unique way. Protect your kids by being an active part of their life. Support them, encourage them, and be there for them when they need you. If you have any questions about your kids and TikTok or social media in general (MySpace, anyone?) do not hesitate to reach out to us. 

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