From viral dance challenges to clever recipes, from hilarious parenting anecdotes to cleaning hacks, TikTok has a video clip on just about any topic you can imagine.

The social media app is loved by all ages as young and old create, share, and watch short clips.

While TikTok requires members of the social media sharing platform to be at least 13 years old to experience the app, there are  safety guidelines in place to not only put parents minds at ease but to ensure you child’s account remains private.

In fact, kids can only see curated, clean videos, and aren’t allowed to comment, search, or post their own videos and anyone under the age of 18 must have approval of a parent or guardian.

In April 2020, TikTok launched Family Pairing, which allows parents and teens to customise their safety settings based on individual needs.

Family Pairing enhances TikTok’s suite of safety tools and provides parents with a better ability to guide their teen’s online experience while allowing time to educate about online safety and digital citizenship.

“Family Pairing is what we call our safety tool feature and it enables a parent or caregiver to connect their account to their teens,” explains Alexandra Evans, TikTok’s Global Head of Child Safety Public Policy.

“For caregivers, it can feel overwhelming trying to keep up with evolving trends or new platforms, and talking about online safety with their teens can seem daunting.

“We are trying had to strike that balance between giving the parents the comfort that they understand how their teen is using TikTok while being mindful of the fact that teens have a right to autonomy and a bit of independence and the ability to explore TikTok without being monitored.”

TikTok’s Family Pairing is a saftey feature which allows parents to connect their account to their teens.

For parents, the world of TikTok and social media in general can be an overwhelming space. TikTok is aiming to simply the guidelines for parents and while making it as safe as possible for teens.

“Being a good digital parent is the same as being a good parent,” explains Alexandra.

“It’s about being there when things go wrong and not panicking. Helping them solve problems and building trust. I’m hoping parents will look at the guidelines and say, ‘phew!'”

When compiling the safety guidelines, Alexandra says TikTok spoke to both parents and teens.

“We hear from teens that they want their voices to be heard and listened to,” she says.

“We want to help simplify things by offering caregivers insight on the support teens really value from the trusted adults in their lives – and who better to advise on what they need than teens themselves.”

On September 2, 2021, TikTok expanded their Family Pairing service by adding advice for parents developed in collaboration with teens and online youth safety experts at Internet Matters.

Parent or guardian accounts currently linked to a teen’s account via Family Pairing will now receive a notification prompting them to find out more about the support teens would like and their suggestions on how to approach conversations about digital literacy and safety.

Making TikTok safe for teens.

Here’s the support teens would like from caregivers as they navigate their online experience:

1. “Help me understand the rules”
Teens don’t expect trusted adults to be experts on every platform, but they value support to set up their accounts. This includes help to check and understand privacy and safety settings. They also told us parents shouldn’t be afraid to set boundaries; teens expect and even welcome them.

2. “Be available to chat”
Teens want trusted adults to be interested in their digital life and to recognise how important the online world is to them. Be available to chat, and don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation.

3. “Don’t panic when things go wrong”
Your teen has come to you for help – fantastic! They may be feeling vulnerable, scared, embarrassed, or upset, so let them know how pleased you are they’ve come to you, listen without recriminations, ask questions and focus on solutions.

4. “Trust me”
Teens get that trust has to be earned and expect adult oversight, but they feel greater autonomy is appropriate as they get older. Every family is different and the pace at which a teen moves toward the independent use of technology will vary, but if your teen knows how to navigate platforms safely and they come to you when things go wrong, that’s a great foundation for trust.

5. “Respect my privacy”
Striking a balance between a teenager’s expectation of privacy and ensuring they are safe is one of the trickiest aspects of parenting – both on and offline. It can be tough when a teen tells you they’d rather you didn’t follow them on a platform. It’s natural to worry they’re up to mischief when really it’s likely they just want some space to hang out with friends without being monitored.

“Teens get that trust has to be earned.”