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TikTok – the hot short video app

4 minutes reading time
11-17 years
Social Media
Tool description
© photothek.net

TikTok is one of the most popular apps among teenagers. It is a platform for creative short videos of all kinds.

In brief

  • free social media app
  • One of the most popular apps among teenagers worldwide
  • Minimum age: 13 years (with parental consent)
  • Criticized for inadequate youth and data protection and restrictions on freedom of expression

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a social media platform and video app in one: users can choose from a colorful collection of well-known pop songs, popular audios and quotes, e.g. from movies. To do this, they “sing” or “speak” playback and film their choreography within the app with their smartphone. But also completely self-created short videos are implemented. Most videos are only 15 or 60 seconds long. Certain videos create real hype, are imitated, or continue in the spirit of a trend or challenge.

TikToker videos, whose account is public, can be viewed and commented on via a browser without having to be logged into the app. However, to create videos yourself, an account is required.

TikTok is releasing more and more features, such as filming yourself in duet with other users, continuing others’ clips (Stitch), or livestreaming. With TikTok Now, spontaneous videos can be created once a day – similar to BeReal – can be published. Companies also use the platform to advertise via it.

What excites children and young people about the offer?

Young people like to use TikTok for exchanges with each other. But the most important thing for them is to have fun with it and share the coolest videos with others. ThroughTikTok, young users are entertained, look for role models to follow, portray themselves, and hope for positive feedback from others.

TikTok is also a great platform to live out your creativity. The barrier to creating and sharing your own video is low: there are plenty of video effects in the app and a music library with popular songs that can be used right away.

Children and young people appreciate the fact that TikTok is less about perfection and professionalism than Instagram. Instagram or YouTube but rather that creativity and fun are in the foreground. The videos are closer to everyday life and the TikTokers are perceived as more approachable. Especially girls from the age of 10 or 11 are enthusiastic about TikTok. As young people get older (14 or 15 and up), the app doesn’t seem as exciting.

What can be problematic about TikTok?

There are a number of things you and your child should consider before using the app:

  • Children (13 years and older) need parental consent to register. However, age is not checked during registration. Many younger children also use TikTok for this reason.
  • Parents-TikTokers show their children in the videos and thus endanger their privacy.
  • Displayed videos are not filtered, exposing young people to content that may be unsuitable for them.
  • If your child posts their own videos on TikTok, they can expect negative reactions. So-called hate is widespread among young people on social media platforms.
  • If comments are not restricted, critical content may occur and there is a high risk for cyberbullying.
  • The users have no rights to the song or movie clips. Therefore, the created videos should not be shared outside the app, otherwise they will violate the image and copyright laws. If other people are in the video, they must always be asked for permission. TikTok also obtains the rights to the published videos.
  • The provider ByteDance finances itself through advertising. The ads in video format are almost indistinguishable from the users’ short clips. With a virtual coin system , TikToker can also top up their balance. This can be used, for example, to buy emojis for your own or other people’s videos.
  • Some challenges circulating on social networks can be dangerous or promote problematic behaviors such as eating disorders. TikTok does not block such content.
  • Deleting an account is currently only possible via a request to customer support.

What does the provider say?

The Chinese operator ByteDance is aware of the danger of disturbing and unwanted content and is gradually adjusting its security settings. For example, a minimum age (16) was introduced for sending direct messages.

  • Accounts of 13- to 15-year-olds are automatically set to “private”. The videos of this user group may not be commented at all or at most by friends. Also, your videos may not be downloaded.
  • Duets and stitches are not possible with under-16 videos, nor are livestreams. The download function of their videos is turned off, but can be activated.

People who create and publish TikToks themselves have been able to “Filter All Comments” and share them individually for some time. Those who want to comment on the TikToks of others will be asked beforehand if this comment should really be published. There is also a reference to the community guidelines that prohibit inappropriate language and hate speech.

In the app, after registration, a red dot refers to the settings. In the safety center of the TikTok website, parents can read tips.

Accompanied mode allows parents to set specific preferences for a family member. For example, you can specify who can send your child messages and how long they can watch videos. In general, user accounts can be reported and/or blocked and there is a filter for offensive comments. However, it is questionable whether it actually works. Algorithms can’t properly contextualize and may filter out more than necessary or “overlook” comments.

TikTok has come under criticism for its moderation rules, which apparently heavily control which videos users can see.

What should parents pay attention to?

If your child wants to sign up for TikTok, ask about his or her motivation. View the terms of use together before downloading. At Handysektor you can find them in a short overview. To explore TikTok, it is not necessary to create an account. Maybe this is a good option for your child to start with, to find out if they even like TikTok.

If there is to be an account at some point, set it up together and try out the first steps together. Enter the correct year of birth so that TikTok ‘s parental control settings can take effect automatically.

Talk to your child about the potential dangers. It is especially important to pay attention to privacy and not reveal too much about yourself in the videos. More control is possible in private mode. This way, communication is possible only with friends and your child keeps track of who can see the videos. Reassure your child that he or she can turn to you at any time should he or she receive insults or be harassed. Also, show him how to block and report inappropriate content. To better protect your own privacy and that of others, a video does not necessarily always have to show your face. With the help of emoji stickers or other creative solutions, this is possible.

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