How to Use TikTok Family Pairing: A Step-By-Step Guide for Parents

If you’re the parent of a teen or tween, you’ve probably heard of TikTok. The video-sharing app has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, with more than one billion monthly users worldwide. 

According to a 2022 survey from the Pew Research Center, TikTok is now the most popular social media platform after YouTube among teenagers aged 13 to 17. 

But there are ongoing concerns that the app’s algorithm for pushing video content and encouraging endless scrolling endangers the mental health of teenagers and young children. Several U.S. states have launched investigations into TikTok’s potentially harmful effects on young users.  

 As a parent, there are steps you can take to protect your child from harmful online content.  TikTok’s Family Pairing feature allows you to link your account with your child's so that you can monitor their usage and control what they watch. 

Benefits of TikTok Family Pairing

With Family Pairing, you can:

  • Control who can send direct messages to your child
  • Restrict who can comment on their videos
  • Set time limits for how long they use the app each day, and 
  • Control which videos are available for them to watch or share. 

Read on to learn how to pair your child’s TikTok account with yours. 

How to Set Up Family Pairing

Before getting started, you’ll first need to create your own TikTok account. Once you’ve done that, you’ll need your phone with the app installed, as well as your child’s phone to set up Family Pairing.

From your child’s device:

  1. Open the TikTok app
  2. Go into their profile and choose Menu
  3. Tap Settings and Privacy
  4. Tap Family Pairing
  5. Read about what Family Pairing is, and click Continue when you're ready
  6. Since you're working from your child's phone, select Teen. Now’s a good time to open TikTok on your own phone
  7. Your child’s device will prompt you to scan the parent’s QR code. To open your QR code, go to your own profile and tap the tiny QR code icon next to your username
  8. Use your child’s device to scan your (the parent’s) QR code

That’s it! You’re connected. 

While you have your child’s phone and TikTok account open, it’s a good idea to set a password. There’s a good chance your child didn’t set one when they created their TikTok account.  

From here, you have options. 

TikTok Family Pairing Features

Daily Screen Time 

The Daily Screen Time feature allows you to control how much time your child spends on TikTok each day. You can choose 40 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes, or 120 minutes. The feature generates a code so you can allow your child more time if you choose. 

If you activate Daily Screen Time, your child won’t be able to log out and switch to another account to bypass any time limits. 

Restricted Mode

Restricted Mode filters out inappropriate content — to a point. It’s not perfect, and the app invites parents to report any harmful content that gets through. 

As with Daily Screen Time, if you have Restricted Mode activated, your child will not be able to log out and switch to another account. 

Search

Here, you can turn the search feature on or off. If it’s off, your child’s feed will be limited to what the app shows. Your child will not be able to look for specific types of content. 

Privacy and Safety

Under the Family Link Privacy and Safety section, you have a few settings to choose from: 

  • Private account: Choose whether or not you want the general public to see your child’s content. We recommend turning this feature on
  • Suggest your teen’s account to others: TikTok suggests accounts of people you may know or accounts similar to what you already follow. You can opt-out of your child appearing in suggestions. 
  • Who can send direct messages to your teen: You can choose Everyone, Friends, or No One. Talk to your child about what’s right for your family. We do not recommend selecting Everyone, as this opens up your child to messages from strangers. 
  • Who can view your teen’s liked videos: You can choose Everyone, or Only Your Teen. Talk to your child about which setting makes sense. Does she want everyone to know which videos she watched and liked?
  • Who can comment on your teen’s videos: You can choose Everyone, Friends, or No One. Keep in mind that trolls and bullies can leave hurtful comments. 

Even with Family Pairing in place, parental controls can only go so far. It’s important to keep a close eye on what your child consumes with a monitoring app like BrightCanary to keep them as safe as possible. 

Summary

TikTok Family Pairing takes only a few minutes to set up and allows you to regulate your child's screen time, filter inappropriate content, turn their search function on or off, and set up privacy settings to limit who can contact them or add them as a friend. Still, the best line of protection is to keep an open line of communication between you and your child. Ask them what kinds of things they see on TikTok, what their favorite types of videos are, who their favorite creators are, and ease into safety topics. With regular check-ins, they'll get used to keeping it all out in the open.

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