TikTok Finally Introduces ‘Family Safety Mode’ But Is It Enough?

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If you’re a parent with an elementary aged kid, you’ve likely heard of TikTok. No, this isn’t the lyrics to some old nursery rhyme song, folks.

TikTok is an app used by people across the globe to showcase their funniest, silliest, dance-iest, most ridiculous “selves” on a platform meant to do just that.

TikTok has been around longer than you may think, originally carrying the name Musical.ly, as a meme, comedic, song and dance challenge inspired social platform.

It’s especially gained traction over the last couple years thanks to everyday users gaining celebrity status more easily than on any other social outlet.

Between that, the endless creative outlet and the fact that the TikTok app has been widely deemed as “cool” by kids these days, it’s become a major online space that appeals HIGHLY to youngins’.

The app has gotten a lot of scrutiny and backlash from parents because of how damn near impossible it is to filter your kid’s viewing experience, but according to business insider, that is changing.

TikTok has already rolled out it’s new, “Family Safety Mode” in the UK and is working to launch the update in other regions soon.

The new parental monitoring aide is designed to allow parents and kids to link accounts.

Giving parents access to their child’s settings including limiting screen time, putting a stop to direct messages or filtering the type of content they can access.

Last year, the app started enforcing a stricter age limit restriction, requiring all users be at a minimum age of 13 to create an account on the app.

Shortly after, they decided to update their community guidelines, focusing majorly on the safety of minor account holders.

Being a parent of young kids who have yet to claim that, “all of my friends are doing it!” just yet, I have to say I can appreciate the attempts TikTok is making to ensure a safer user experience for minors.

But is it enough?

Let’s be real here – social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. If anything, we will likely see a surge in MORE content rather than any of these platforms completely going obsolete.

Facebook is ever changing to ensure it does not become a thing of the past and YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and every other social platform has followed suit. 

Attempting to police or restrict our kids, many of whom were born AFTER we had our own social media accounts, is not only doing them a disservice but it can be dangerous. 

Most of these apps have easy access.

Sure, you might have to type in your birthday and you might have to tell a parent if you’re under age and link up accounts, but couldn’t you just type in a birthday you KNOW is over the minimum requirement?

You bet.

Because most of these apps only require an email address, you can easily create a false alias and join the app sight unseen to anyone you don’t choose to tell.

If you think you’re kids aren’t already on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or ESPECIALLY TikTok just because you forbade it, you’d be wrong, friend. 

As parents we only want to keep our kids safe.

I understand another parent’s logic when they place strict restrictions on their kids’ screen usage.

It’s out of love and concern that they create this rigid boundaries with social media and other entertainment sites.

But, in the end, isn’t it also our job to teach our kids how to live in the WORLD? This age of technology is not going away. If anything, it’s only getting stronger and at a much faster speed. 

If you ask me, the parental service like TikTok’s new Family Safety Mode is a great resource for parents, but really, we need to be spending time with our kids to help them understand WHY we want them to be safe while using the internet.

And how they can do that while also enjoying their experience. Point blank: every parent needs to take time to teach their kids the safe way to “internet.” 

Don’t talk to strangers.

Don’t give out any personal information.

I don’t care how old someone says they are, it’s a lie. In fact, everyone is a liar.

Don’t ever tell someone your name, school, age, address, town, birthday, favorite color, ANYTHING ABOUT YOU is off limits.

Not even if you are talking to friends, because you never know who else can hear you. 

I have my kids recite these rules (and others) to me on an almost daily basis and DEFINITELY before they jump on any interactive/community games or platforms like Fortnite or TikTok. 

It might seem crazy to some parents, but my kids have far more access to social media than most their age and I can’t help but wonder as other parents clutch their pearls in shock, if it’s because they just don’t know what kinds of conversations we should be having with our kids about social interactions online.

My kids are still young for the most part, but what I’ve learned about being open with them about my own social media experiences and explaining the very real fears I have for them, and why, they have been far more apt to open up to me about their interactions.

They come get me immediately if they get a message, a conversation starter or a request from someone they aren’t sure they know.

They don’t break the rules, because they understand that it is not because I’m a “mean mom” who doesn’t want them to be cool, but because people in this world are fucking crazy and if they want to have their independence (as much as I’m willing to give at their ages) they have to show me they can be responsible and remember the “rules.” 

Unfortunately, we aren’t going to get away from this type of online platform as new ones are showing up daily. Let’s raise our kids to be smarter than we were heading into an AOL chatroom calling out things like, “A/S/L?” and “TTYL!”  {cringe}

So, while I applaud TikTok for trying, the real tools to keeping our kids safe are in the hands of the parents. Because we’re the ones whose job it is to keep them safe online. 

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