Is TikTok suitable for 10-year-olds

Accompanied mode : This is how parents can control their children on TikTok

What young people do in social networks, they prefer to keep hidden from their parents. That should also apply to the currently hottest app: TikTok. Teenagers produce their own clips on the video platform, edit them with filters - and then share them with other users. This can take a lot of time. Too much, as some parents think.

Now adults should be able to intervene in their children's app: With the latest update, TikTok has added the so-called “accompanied mode” to the app. The principle: Parents can use their own smartphone to specify, among other things, how long their child can use the app - between 40 and 120 minutes a day. If the quota is used up, only one password can be activated for an additional period of time. In addition, parents can set their offspring to only receive messages from friends. Strangers are locked out as a result.

A content filter can also be activated. This then hides inappropriate content on the child's smartphone. "With the new mode, we want to make it even easier for parents and young people to deal with the use of digital channels together," explains a TikTok spokeswoman when asked. The new mode can be found in the so-called “Digital Wellbeing” settings under “Privacy and Settings”.

In order for the control function to work, however, parents must download the TikTok app themselves and then scan a QR code from the child's device. Only this enables the mode. Conversely, this also means: Without the willingness of the teenagers, it won't work. "We respect the privacy of all of our users," explains a spokeswoman.

Parents do not see which videos the children click on

With the new function, parents cannot see which specific videos the young people ultimately click - also for data protection reasons, as TikTok explains. Nor can they read their messages or comments. But the company is doing a lot of advertising for the new mode. Popular network stars explain the principle of the new parenting function in their videos, and warn young users to be sensitive in the social network.

With 800 million users, TikTok is now one of the world's most popular social networks. Behind the service is the Chinese tech company Bytedance, which is considered the most valuable start-up in the world with a valuation of $ 75 million. In Germany alone, around 5.5 million people have a TikTok account, mostly young people. So far, the company has mainly relied on self-control: young people can set time limits for themselves or hide inappropriate content - but the functions can be deactivated again just as quickly.

Children cheat when it comes to age

The competence center of the federal and state governments for the protection of children and young people on the Internet, jugendschutz.net, welcomes the involvement of parents in principle, explained a spokeswoman when asked. However, the new function has not yet been tested. It was only in January that the youth welfare activists repeatedly examined the network. Among other things, they complained that the app would not check the real age of the users. Children could also register with false information.

To use TikTok, according to the terms and conditions, teenagers must actually be at least 13 years old. Children under the age of 18 also need a declaration of consent from their parents. "The question of age verification is an industry-wide challenge that we are working to solve together with authorities and our partners in the industry," says TikTok.

Adults seek contact with minors

In addition, jugendschutz.net sees a risk from sexual harassment. "Girls in particular emulate their role models in using them and sometimes present themselves freely in front of the camera," says a report. This is what some adult users would have wanted. They would then try to contact the minors via comments.

Youth advocates also warn against cyberbullying. Users can download embarrassing videos with a click, edit them afterwards - and share them in other networks. TikTok itself has set up an online security center that is supposed to show users various setting options. The network has also published an online brochure for parents and young people.

Function not yet available everywhere

Incidentally, the new control mode is not yet available to everyone. "For technical reasons, it can take a few days before the setting option can be found in the app," explains a spokeswoman. How many young people then allow their parents to talk into them remains to be seen.

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