TikTok is releasing an important new function called 'Family Pairing' which will give parents more options to better manage their kids' time in the app, while also protecting them from unwanted exposure to both offensive content and potential predators.
As explained by TikTok:
"Today, we are advancing our commitment to building for the safety of our users by introducing Family Pairing, which allows parents and teens to customize their safety settings based on individual needs. Family Pairing is part of our continued work toward providing parents better ability to guide their teen's online experience while allowing time to educate about online safety and digital citizenship."
As you can see in the screenshots above, Family Pairing will enable parents to link their child's TikTok account to theirs, giving them a new suite of controls over their kids' on-platform activity.
Family Pairing includes three key elements:
- Screen Time Management - Parents will be able to set limits on how long their children can spend on TikTok each day.
- Restricted Mode - Parents will also be able to set restrictions on content that may not be appropriate, based on TikTok's moderation tools
- Direct Messages - And parents will also, importantly, be able to restrict who can send messages to their child's TikTok account - or turn off direct messaging completely.
These are important updates - one of the key criticisms (among many) in relation to TikTok is that it's fast becoming a platform where underage girls essentially showcase their sexuality. TikTok's algorithm may incidentally encourage this - TikTok's past moderation guidelines explicitly stated that it wanted to highlight 'attractive' people in order to help boost usage, while its systems will also show you more of the same content that you've previously engaged with. So if you engage with videos of pretty girls or guys dancing around, guess what you're going to see more of?
That, of course, is not a lot different to other social platform algorithms, but because of TikTok's video focus, and its popularity with younger audiences (many of whom will do almost anything to get more likes), the consequence is that it can encourage negative behavior.
As such, these new controls will provide much-needed capacity. Furthering this, TikTok will also automatically disable direct messages for users under the age of 16 as of April 30th - though users will still be able to manually switch them back on, if they choose.
TikTok's meteoric rise has been saddled with a range of controversies, and the potential exploitation of younger users is a primary concern among the various issues at hand. The platform's growth shows no sign of stopping as yet, and the further it expands, the larger the problem becomes, so its good to see TikTok looking to provide more options to eliminate such issues before they lead to larger problems.
The tools come in addition to TikTok's Parents' Guide and its safety tips account to help young users better understand the relative risks and issues involved with social media usage.
You can read more about Family Pairing here - and worth noting, for clarity, TikTok is technically not available to users under the age of 13.