TikTok Takes Stock on Youth Digital Safety, Expands Safety Resources for Parents
TikTok aims to bridge the disconnect between parents & youth in a dialogue with industry experts
Recognising the challenges of parenting in the digital age, TikTok, the leading destination for short-form mobile videos, today introduced refreshed safety resources to guide parents in becoming more equipped digital stewards and help them better understand their children’s online experiences
Presented in a dialogue entitled TikTok #ListenToYOUth, TikTok facilitated the ongoing conversation on online safety and brought representatives from both sides (parents and youths) to the table to get a picture of current parent understanding of online matters and bridge the possible disconnect between what parents and youths expect. The virtual dialogue also saw the participation of the Malaysian
Communications and Multimedia
Commission (MCMC) who shared insights on Malaysia’s online safety landscape and best practices for youth to respond to unwanted internet experiences.
"In the age of digital and with life moving online thanks to the pandemic, the young today are more exposed and more savvy with the online world. However, the ease of use does not equal maturity to navigate unsafe social media situations and children/youth still need and value guidance from trusted adults. At TikTok, we understand the gravity of raising safe and responsible digital citizens and are continuously empowering parents through a series of resources and tools to enable this process," said Kristoffer Eduard Rada, TikTok Head of Public Policy, Malaysia
Trust and open communication are key defences for online safety
As much as safety resources and guides are crucial for parents to protect their children, trust and open communication is key when it comes to having digital safety and security conversations among families. Sharing the perspective of parents, Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, Chairman of Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) believes that parents should not feel the need to spy or stalk their teens.
"Trust between parents and children needs to be inculcated from young. It is a lot easier, and it sets the stage that children can come to us anytime if there is a problem. There are many parenting styles, but the most important practice is to be present and involved when raising them. It's fine to be a helicopter parent because that's when we're able to detect issues; but where we need to strike a balance is boundaries. We live in a time where our way is no longer the highway. Parents should also know that there’s always a place beyond the home to look for support," said Datin Azimah.
Delving into the perspective of youths, the group generally stressed on the importance of parental competency, staying relevant and maintaining open communication in mitigating online risks. Taking an interest and making an effort to learn about social media - not just the threats and risks but also the benefits and opportunities - are welcomed by youth. On advantages of social media, Potter Ka Kai Fong from Lions Club International representing the voice of youth shared that it is heartening to see young people use social media to champion and advocate on topics such as environment issues, equality and even drive social charity causes.
"A lot of worthy causes would be slow to see the light of day if it weren’t for social media. Youths today are using these platforms to create awareness and it’s important for parents to recognise and support this. While social media can be an unsafe place for teens as it compounds on issues like self-esteem and cyberbullying, it can also be a place to affect change. This is where parents can come in and even stay relevant - take interest in the causes your children support and be part of that conversation to build a healthier relationship not only with the children but with social media as well. Having parents as role models makes all the difference," said Potter
Guide for parents to stay vigilant and relevant
Set Appropriate Limits
Digital parenting is not about controlling your teen's use of technology but rather helping them balance their time on social media platforms. TikTok specifically has a range of safety features that can help your teen, aged 13 and over, maintain their digital wellbeing. First and foremost, it is worthwhile to link your TikTok account to your children's via the Family Pairing tool - this allows you to directly manage key safety controls such as direct messages and comments on your teen's account. TikTok also offers a Screen Time Management feature as part of our Digital Wellbeing offerings that enable time limits of up to 2 hours and curates age-appropriate experiences.
It is critical that teen understands online privacy as a fundamental human right. Talk to children about the value of their personal information and have them understand the concept of a digital footprint – that everything they do online will leave a permanent and traceable digital trail. Help them set strict boundaries around their online community interactions to prevent the privacy breaches that can come from oversharing personal information or hacking. TikTok has enhanced default privacy settings for all registered accounts ages 13-15 to private. With a private TikTok account, only someone who the user approves as a follower can view their videos. TikTok wants younger users to be able to make informed choices about what and with whom they choose to share. By engaging them early in their privacy journey, we can enable them to make more deliberate decisions about their online privacy
Parents should keep the lines of communication open while asking about their teen’s online experiences, the kinds of things they see online and talk about with friends, or whether they are having any issues with peers and others. Parents should also ask regularly and specifically about cyberbullying and if they or a friend of theirs have had any such experience. Take the time to learn about TikTok's new anti-cyberbullying features that give users even more control over their content and the interactions they receive.
Educate on Dis-/Mis-information
The pandemic has only highlighted how fast fake news, which is designed to look like trustworthy information, can spread. Encourage your teen to analyse what they see and spread on social media and remind them to fact-check information sources. Talk to your teen about online influencers and product placements that they might see and discuss how these messages might affect them. TikTok recently developed a new resource for the Safety Centre dedicated to challenges and hoaxes. This includes advice for parents to address the uncertainty and validity of potentially harmful challenges. TikTok is currently improving the language used in warning labels for content related to harmful challenges or hoaxes. A new prompt will encourage community members to visit the Safety Centre to learn more, and should people search for hoaxes linked to suicide or self-harm, additional resources will now be displayed in search.
Agree on Family Tech Boundaries
Parents are encouraged to set a clear "Family Tech Agreement" on when and where the whole family can access and use digital devices. This includes setting device-free zones and times such as during family meals or during weekend mornings. These rules need to be mutually agreeable with clear consequences for breaking them - and apply to parents too
Through these ongoing initiatives TikTok is committed to building a positive environment for our users while protecting against industry-wide challenges around platform misuse. The brand is also continuously working with organisations in the public and private sector to help ensure that policies, technology, privacy controls, and the user education provided continue to promote a safe and welcoming environment for the TikTok community.
Find out more about TikTok's safety features on the Safety Centre and start a safe TikTok journey with your teen by downloading the app for free via the Apple Store, Google Play Store and Huawei AppGallery