How to Activate Parental Controls on TikTok

Tiktok Parental Controls Featured

Video-sharing social media app TikTok is extremely popular with the younger crowd including teens and pre-teens. If you’re a parent who is worried about your child spending an ever-increasing amount of time on the social app, then you should know that TikTok includes a host of parental controls, as well as privacy settings meant to enable young users to use TikTok safely. In this article we’ll show you how you can set up parental controls for your child’s TikTok account.

Does TikTok Have an Age Limit?

TikTok will automatically adjust its settings based on the date of birth entered by the users when creating their account. With this in mind, TikTok has different rules for different ages:

Under 13 – will have access to a version of the app called “TikTok for Younger User” which presents cleaner content especially curated for the younger audiences. Furthermore, users can’t post videos or comment.

Age 13-15 – the accounts created for this age category are Private by default. Even so, it doesn’t hurt to check to confirm that’s indeed the case when setting up parental controls in TikTok. Anyway, kids in this group can’t download videos, only friends can comment on their content, and their videos can’t be used for Duet or Stitching which are collaborative features in TikTok.

Age 16 and over – can do most of the things an adult user can including livestreaming and sending/receiving direct messages. However, only users above 18 can buy, send or receive virtual gifts.

Despite these measures, TikTok does not require any age verification checks when signing up, and so a young person lying about their age can easily get away with it. Bearing this in mind, parents should take extra precautions if they want to make sure their child experience is a safe one on TikTok.

How to Set Up Family Pairing in TikTok

In the TikTok app, parental controls come in the form of Family Pairing. This is a feature that resembles Google Family Link in the sense that it allows parents to connect their account to their child’s account. All from within the app, as installing another service isn’t required. You can set up Family Pairing solely from the TikTok app and not from PC.

  1. Open the TikTok app on your phone (for the purpose of this tutorial we used the Android TikTok app).
  2. Tap on the Profile icon in the lower right corner of the display.
Tiktok Parental Controls Profile
  1. On your profile page, tap on the hamburger menu in the upper right corner of the display.
Tiktok Parental Controls Settings Privacy
  1. Select “Settings and privacy” from the pop up that appears from the bottom.
  2. Press on “Family Pairing” in the “Content & Activity” section.
Tiktok Parental Controls Family Pairing
  1. Tap the Continue button.
Tiktok Parental Controls Continue Screen
  1. Select whether this is a Parent or Teen account. We’ve selected the former option. Once done, press the Next button at the bottom.
Tiktok Parental Controls Parent Account
  1. Now, you’ll need to scan a QR code in order to link the two accounts.
Tiktok Parental Controls Parent Qr Code
  1. On the child device, retrace steps #1 to #7 (select Teen this time around).
  2. Press on the “Scan code” button and use the child device to scan the code on the parent device.
Tiktok Parental Controls Scan Code Child Account
  1. Once the operation is complete, press “Link accounts” on the child device to confirm.
Tiktok Parental Controls Link Accounts
  1. Tap on “Link” in the pop-up that appears to finalize the process.
Tiktok Parental Controls Link Confirmation
  1. Congrats, the two accounts are now linked. On the parent device, you’ll be taken to a Parental controls dashboard that shows you what accounts are linked to yours. You can add more than one account by pressing the “+” button. To start managing a child account, parents should press on that child’s username.
Tiktok Parental Controls Parental Dashboard View

Parental Control Options in TikTok

Once you’ve connected the two accounts together, adults will be able to access a bunch of parental controls from their device. These include the following:

  • Screen Time Management – from here you can control the amount of time your teen is allowed to use TikTok. Once it runs out, they won’t be able to use TikTok unless the parent gives them access to a code that was created when the feature was enabled. Press on “Set a time limit” to select.
Tiktok Parental Controls Set Time Limit
  • Restricted Mode – then there’s restricted mode which limits access to content that may not be appropriate for some viewers. More importantly, while using this mode, the child won’t be permitted to log out or switch to another account thus bypassing these restrictions.
Tiktok Parental Controls Restricted Mode
  • Search – lets parents turn off the search function for the child account to prevent them from accidentally stumbling upon something they shouldn’t.
  • Privacy & safety – this section allows parents to add extra layers of security to their child’s account. For instance, they can make the account private, which is encouraged. This minimizes the chances of children interacting with the wrong people. In the Safety section, parents can set additional preferences for “Who can send direct messages to your teen”, “Who can view your teen’s liked videos”, “Who can comment on your teens videos”. Your choices include: Everyone (Public), Friends and No one.
Tiktok Parental Controls Privacy Settings

All these options will be visible in the child’s account, but they will not be able to alter them from the “Family Pairing” dashboard (or from the app’s settings for that matter). However, it’s possible to tweak some settings by pressing the button at the bottom in the “Privacy and safety” section on the child device.

Tiktok Parental Controls Child Edit Settings

For instance, in the Discoverability section you can select if you’d like to “Sync contacts and Facebook friends”. If the parent account has set your account to private, however, you won’t be able to change it back. The same goes for “Suggesting your account to others” preferences.

Tiktok Parental Controls Child Privacy

Moreover, the child device has also access to “Download your data” as well as to a bunch of more options in Safety. This includes tweaking what happens when you get a mention or tag, who gets to see your following list and liked videos.

If you fall under the right age category (as explained above), TikTok will automatically prevent others from using your videos to do Duets and Stitching. This is all done to protect the young user’s privacy, as well as to discourage bullying.

How to Turn on Digital Wellbeing Features in TikTok

If you tend to trust your child more, then it might not be necessary to set up Family Link and connect your two accounts. You can simply borrow their device and change some settings directly from their phone. These are packaged under the Digital Wellbeing section in TikTok. Here’s how to get to them.

  1. Open the TikTok app on your phone (for the purpose of this tutorial we used the Android TikTok app).
  2. Tap on the Profile icon in the lower right corner of the display.
Tiktok Parental Controls Profile
  1. On your profile page, tap on the hamburger menu in the upper right corner of the display.
Tiktok Parental Controls Settings Privacy
  1. Select “Settings and privacy” from the pop up that appears from the bottom.
  2. Scroll down until you find “Digital Wellbeing”. It should be right above “Family Pairing”. Tap on the option.
Tiktok Parental Controls Digital Wellbeing
  1. From here you can turn on “Screen Time Management” or “Restricted Mode”. These are the same options we saw in the “Family Pairing” dashboard and turning them on will have a similar effect.
Tiktok Parental Controls Wellbeing Options

Just bear in mind one thing here – your child could reverse the restrictions you’ve imposed on their account. They could turn off Restricted mode or prolong their screen time. A lot of kids are resourceful and more than capable of using Google search and find out how.

How to Unlink Family Pairing Accounts

At some point, parents might want to grant total autonomy to their kids while using TikTok. If that’s your case, then here’s how you can unlink the two accounts.

  1. Go to “Family Pairing” in TikTok and tap on your child’s account which should be listed there.
  2. Press on the “Unlink” button all the way to the bottom.
Tiktok Parental Controls Parent Unlink
  1. Confirm your choice by choosing “Unlink” once again after that.
Tiktok Parental Controls Final Unlink

The two TikTok accounts will now be separate, and the teenager/young adult will now be able to set all their preferences regarding how they interact on the social media app.

Note that the unlinking process can be initiated from the child account, as well.

  1. For that, the user will need to go the “Family Pairing” in the app, and tap on the three dots in the upper right corner.
Tiktok Parental Controls Child Three Dots
  1. Select the “Unlink account” option from the pop-up menu that appears at the bottom.
  2. TikTok will immediately remind you that the account is linked to another. The teen can go ahead and press on the “Unlink” button to continue but that won’t have an instant effect, as the “Family Pairing” settings will continue to apply for the next 48 hours.
Tiktok Parental Controls Child Unlink
  1. The parent account will now be notified of the request to unlink.

The parental controls presented in this article can only be accessed from the TikTok app. However, if you feel like your child needs more supervision online you might want to think of installing Google Family Link on both of your devices. The app will let you control how much time and how long your youngsters on any of the apps they have installed on their smartphone.

Frequently Asked Question

1. Can I monitor my kid’s activity from the TikTok parental controls dashboard?

Unfortunately, you can’t. The dashboard is only for setting up restrictions. You won’t be able to see what your child has posted or what videos he/she liked. If you want to keep track of your child’s activity you should follow them on the app them and make sure you visit their profile regularly.

2. How can I help improve TikTok’s parental controls?

You can help TikTok improve Restricted mode by reporting inappropriate comments and users. To report a comment, long tap on it and select Report from the menu that appears. To report a user, visit their profile and then tap on the three-dots in the upper right corner of the display. Select Report from the options that appear towards the bottom. From the same menu, it’s also possible to opt to “Block” the individual instead. You can also report, videos, video comments, hashtags, and direct messages.

3. What are some child-friendly TikTok alternatives?

Even with the parental controls in place on TikTok, you might still prefer if your child didn’t use the app. The good news is that there are alternatives out there that are more secure such as, for instance, Funimate (Android | iOS) or Triller (Android | iOS).

Image credit: Unsplash

Alexandra Arici
Alexandra Arici

Alexandra is passionate about mobile tech and can be often found fiddling with a smartphone from some obscure company. She kick-started her career in tech journalism in 2013, after working a few years as a middle-school teacher. Constantly driven by curiosity, Alexandra likes to know how things work and to share that knowledge with everyone.

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