TikTok is the app of the moment, loved by the very young: but is it really safe? Here’s how your child’s data is used and what to do to protect your account from harm.
TikTok is the app of the moment, especially among young people, but is it really safe? Social allows you to share short videos, similar to Instagram stories: if you have seen your child dance and sing in lip-sync with his smartphone in his hand, it is likely that he is enrolled in the popular Chinese social network. How is your child’s data used and what are the possible privacy and security risks?
Filters, effects and animations: all crazy for TikTok that in a short time has become so popular as to compete with Instagram, Facebook reaching more users of Snapchat and Twitter every month. The app has teenagers as its target audience, but it also appeals to adults, giving rise to some legitimate doubts about how user data is used, which are often still minors.
Obviously TikTok is not in itself a dangerous app, but it is good to ascertain not only how it is used by your children, but also how personal data is used (real exchange currency for most social networks).
Is TikTok safe? Privacy, data and security for minors
TikTok is the new version of the old musical.ly and is downloadable on both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
The app can contain content intended for an adult audience, through the various explicit lyrics or the various contents aimed at a decidedly more mature audience: on the Google Play Store the age limit set starts from 13 years, while on iOS the limit even drops to 12 years for download via the App Store.
Parents are warned and invited to take the age limits seriously: despite the number of young users, the application is not full for younger children. The various limits that can be set via parent control on the two operating systems meet this need.
Leading TikTok, which prefers the video sharing platform to the social network label, is Beijing ByteDance Technology, a Chinese company founded by Zhang Yiming in 2012 and currently has a valuation that exceeds 75 billion dollars compared to almost 2 billion registered and active users every month.
The target to which TikTok aims is that included in the 18-25 age range but as we know the app is popular among the very young, often minors, and the platform monetizes by exploiting the data and the interest of the companies (which begin to invest more and more ).
An emblematic case is that occurred a few months ago in the USA, where TikTok was fined $5.7 million for admitting registered users under the age of 13 imposed by the limit, a sign of poor control that would allow to easily get around the block and use the app.
TikTok: how is the data used?
Regarding the use of data by TikTok, despite the presence of the security rules that can be consulted and subscribed at the time of registration, there is still a certain mystery.
The company defends itself from various accusations by declaring that all the information collected through the app is necessary to improve the application and for adding new content especially those for creating new filters.
The recent dispute between the United States and China, however, also raises questions that go beyond the shift filter: there are those who make TikTok a national case by reviewing in the app almost an espionage tool, a bit like the FaceApp case for Russia. These are hypotheses and assumptions on the edge of suspicion, obviously denied by the same application.
TikTok: how to make your child’s account private
If your child uses TikTok and you prefer to exercise more control over his online identity, there are some security measures you can take.
First of all, put the private account: by default, in fact, every account created on TikTok is public and in this way everyone can see your posts, comments and contents. To make sure that only approved followers can see content posted by your child, you can set it all to private:
- Open the TikTok app;
- select the “Me” button at the bottom right;
- tap on the three dots at the top right;
- click on “Privacy and Security” and press the switch on Private account.
You can also apply a content filter, useful for banning words or comments that are unsuitable for a particular profile. To do it:
- Open TikTok;
- select the “Me” button at the bottom right;
- select the three dots at the top right;
- click on “Healthy use of the application”;
- choose between “Time Management” (to set a precise timer in which to use the app) or “Limited Mode” to filter out any unsuitable content.
The time block window lasts one hour and can also be set with a code known only by a parent.