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.
With Family Pairing, you can:
Read on to learn how to pair your child’s TikTok account with yours.
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
Under the Family Link Privacy and Safety section, you have a few settings to choose from:
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.
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.