We’ve written about some of the tools TikTok has for parents to help monitor their child’s TikTok activity. In this post, we’ll talk about some of the other issues parents should think about when it comes to TikTok.
The easiest way for your child to beat your TikTok monitoring is to create a second account. Note that multiple accounts can be normal. For example, your teen might have a TikTok account that’s all about cooking and another for dances. But they might also have multiple accounts to make it harder for you to use the many TikTok safety tools at your disposal.
Mental Health Diagnosis
Mental health is a big topic on TikTok, but unfortunately this has led to many teens self-diagnosing as having ADHD, Tourette’s, DID, autism, and more. On the positive side, teens and young adults are more open to discussing mental health problems. However, mental health professionals agree that TikTok can be a source of misinformation and being mislabelled can narrow a teen’s sense of who they are. Self-diagnosis isn’t ever appropriate, so it’s important to redirect teens from TikTok to a real mental health professional who can provide a correct diagnosis and important context with good information and sensitivity. Besides, a real mental health professional might be able to tell your teen which TikTokers have content that’s actually worthwhile.
Ah, what’s old is new again. The many so-called challenges of early YouTube, such as planking, the cinnamon challenge, and the blackout challenge are all back, in TikTok form. It’s important to have a conversation with your child about how badly these can go and encourage them to question whether or not they should try a TikTok challenge. Remember talks about peer pressure from your own youth? Now, peer pressure can come from online comments (and reactions, duets, and other online interactions), so it’s important to calibrate your peer pressure commentary to your kid’s new online reality. And one last tool you can use: remind your kids that things that go online might live there forever. Do they really want an embarrassing blackout video following them around into high school and beyond?
Financial & Phishing Scams
TikTok is rife with financial advice and scams. Fake loans, fake prizes, and fake giveaways are some that target the younger crowd. Others encourage users to post their SIN, date of birth, and other personal information. Your teen should know to never send money online, never trust something too good to be true, and to guard their personal information.
One thing to note: if your child is bullied online, never respond by taking away their social media. Research shows that this makes the child feel like they’re being punished for being bullied, and they won’t come to you for help in the future.
Misinformation isn’t unique to TikTok by any stretch of the imagination. But if your teen is on TikTok, that’s probably where they’ll encounter their misinformation. TikTok will sometimes flag misinformation, but it’s also important to talk to your teen about using multiple sources, not falling prey to motivated reasoning, and why it’s important to be sceptical. Remember, anyone can have a TikTok account and say whatever they want.