New TikTok feature gives parents greater control over what their teens view and post

Picture: Getty Images
Picture: Getty Images 

TikTok has announced enhanced privacy and browsing options, allowing parents greater control over their teens use of the app.

The video-sharing platform, typically used to view and upload short clips of dancing or stunts gone wrong, is hugely popular among teenagers.

Among the new monitoring features is the ability for parents to control the content their teens can search for, and if they can search for hashtags and users.

As well as the ability to allow who can comment (friends only etc) or to block comments on their videos, to set their profile to private or public and decide who can see videos their teen has liked.

The changes build on existing 'Family Pairing' features for the app, which allows parents to link their account to their teen's and to set screen time limits of 40, 60 or 90 minute blocks, run it on 'restricted mode' and set direct message controls which were launched earlier this year. 

The features follow a huge surge in popularity for the app this year with Roy Morgan finding that its user base grew by 850,000 in the first half of 2020 alone.

According to the data, of the 2.5 million Australians who use the app, more than 746,000 are from 'Generation Alpha' - those born after 2006.

Of these, 523,000 users are aged between 10-13, and the remainder aged from just six-nine-years-old.

A further 1 million users are from Gen Z, those born between 1991-2005.

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Millennials and Generation X make up just nine per cent and four per cent of users respectively, many of whom are likely parents using the app to monitor their kids usage.

TikTok, Australia and New Zealand General Manager Lee Hunter said the Family Pairing tool was developed to help give parents a greater insight into how their teens use the app.

"Parenting a teen's digital life can be daunting and many parents feel as though they're playing catchup when it comes to the latest technology and apps their teens use. Working with our community and industry partners, we are committed to helping facilitate important conversations within families about internet safety" Hunter said.

TikTok has also published resources for parents, including a youth portal, parent's page, and educational safety videos, including a how-to-video for setting up Family Pairing.

The app faced scrutiny earlier this year after many users unwittingly witnessed a graphic suicide video which had been live streamed to Facebook before being uploaded to TikTok, who were left scrambling to remove the video.

Many parents have also been concerned by dangerous viral challenges shared on the app, such as the Benadryl Challenge encouraging users to take more than the recommended dose to experience a high and a 'skull breaking' challenge.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or contact the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.