With nifty features for finding, sharing, and remixing videos from other users, there's terrific potential for this to be an inclusive, creative social space. That being said, because TikTok's content features popular music, lyrics can contain swearing and sexual references, and parents have reported finding explicit sexual content and content referencing self-harm. Initially, TikTok videos could be only 15 seconds long, but TikTok has changed the length restriction a number of times. Currently, users can post 10-minute clips. Numerous brief videos are still available in the app, though, involving topics such as comedy, games, food, sports, pets, and ASMR. Videos you create and share can be customized with special effects and filters. The editing tool allows you to trim and duplicate videos, and you can also add tunes by choosing from a library of free music selections, ranging from hip-hop to country. Videos can also include sound effects. Kids can locate things to watch several ways, including by entering a term and seeing a list of related hashtag phrases, users, and sounds.
With a massive amount of content to potentially view, the amount of hours kids can end up spending on TikTok is one of the app's biggest detriments. Time limits can be set on younger users' accounts, however, and a Restricted mode helps (but may not totally prevent) kids from finding inappropriate content. The Family Pairing feature gives parents even more control -- which is a plus when it comes to social media apps. Some privacy and safety features are built into kids' accounts. They're set to private by default if a user is age 13 to 15, for instance, and only people they approve can follow and view their videos. But if you're 16 or older, your account will automatically be made public. Certain safety features also prevent kids who are under 16 from having their videos combined with a video from another person, called duetting. Other users also can't stitch your video, which involves using part of it in theirs. Those settings can't be changed. You have to be 16 or older to livestream and use direct messaging -- although even if you are, your DM setting will be "No One" by default. Creators can control which comments go live on their videos, as well. Commenters might see a pop-up box suggesting they rethink a statement that's been identified as possibly being inappropriate, based on keywords. Users also have to be 18 and older to buy, send, and receive virtual gifts. The Privacy and Safety settings aren't infallible, though, because kids could potentially pretend they are older by entering a false birth date when they register. The various restrictions may take much of the fun out of the app for some kids. Still, for those 16 and up who can better handle the mature content, it can be an enjoyable diversion, provided fame doesn't become an obsession, and using the app doesn't take up too much of their time. The general idea behind this social media network has promise -- but with so many features, teens should adjust TikTok's privacy settings before using it, just to be safe.