TikTok has more than 1,023 million monthly active users worldwide and is the preferred social network for generation Z -young people born between 1995 and 2009-. In fact, its success is so great that they not only use it to share and view content: it has even come to unseat Google as the default search engine for many teenagers. For this reason, it is important to know the cybersecurity risks that this social network hides, as well as the keys to follow to improve the safety of minors on TikTok.
Addiction problems and exposure of personal data
One of the main risks that this social network can bring with it to the youngest is addiction. In fact, Francisco Ferre, a psychiatrist at the Gregorio Maranon Hospital in Madrid, warns that TikTok is the most addictive network and that minors affected by it “even stop having contact with their families or start eating and drinking less.”
Activate the ‘Digital disconnection’ function
To deal with this problem, TikTok has among its functions a so-called ‘Digital disconnection’. It is located in the ‘Privacy and settings’ section and, when activated, limits the maximum time of daily use. To continue using the app afterward, you need to enter a password.
Have a private account
Minors may share personal information or images in their videos that may put their security at risk, especially if they have a public account. The first piece of advice to follow to avoid this is to have a private account that can only be accessed by people known to the minor. To choose this option, you have to go to ‘Settings and privacy’ and in the ‘Privacy’ section choose ‘Private account’. From there you can also review other aspects, such as activating or deactivating the activity status, which indicates whether or not the person is using the social network at that very moment.
Other important recommendations are not to share in the videos any type of information that reveals the location of the person or their place of residence, as well as personal data such as ID, bank information or any data that could lead to identity theft.
Thefts and impersonations
To prevent third parties from extracting data such as the aforementioned and using it fraudulently, it is essential that the account be as secure as possible. For this, it is vital to have a password that is difficult to break, as well as link the account to a trusted phone and activate two-step verification.
First, the password you use must be at least 12-15 characters long and contain uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. It is also advisable to change it from time to time and, of course, not share it with anyone.
Link account and two-step verification
Another measure to take into account to protect the account is to link it to a telephone number and an email so that, in case of theft, it can be recovered more easily. To do so, just go to the profile and click on the three-line icon in the upper right corner. Then select ‘Settings and privacy’ and ‘Manage account’. Here you have to enter the phone number and email address. Finally, press ‘Send code’ to receive an authentication code.
Along with this, it is recommended to activate two-step verification, a free tool that adds another layer of security to the account. This is activated by entering TikTok and clicking on ‘Profile’, then on the three-line icon and, finally, on ‘Settings and privacy’. ‘Security & login’ and ‘2-Step Verification’ appear. As in the previous procedure, it is necessary to enter the telephone number and email. Then click on ‘Activate’ and then on ‘Send code’.
The objective of the function that allows to choose trusted devices is that a notification is sent every time someone accesses an account from a different mobile phone or computer than usual. How active? From ‘Settings and Privacy’, in the ‘Security and login’ section and then in ‘Manage devices’. The devices from which the account is usually accessed will appear there and, if one is unknown, you just have to remove it from that list by clicking on the trash can icon.
Avoid bullying situations and inappropriate content
Social networks are a breeding ground for bullying, as many minors hide behind false profiles to harass, insult and humiliate their peers. To avoid this problem, which must be addressed and prevented from the classroom, some functions can be used.
Limit comments and direct messages
On TikTok, comments can be public (anyone can comment), private (only followers of the account), or limited (you choose who can comment). To select the last option, and thus prevent unwanted profiles from making negative comments on the content that is published, you must go to ‘Comment filters’ within ‘Privacy’. From there it is possible to choose between several options such as filtering all comments, only those that are considered spam or offensive, filtering by keywords that oneself adds to a list, etc.
In the same way, there is the option to limit the direct messages that are received, which are also one of the most common ways to communicate with other users. To restrict them, it can be done from ‘Settings and privacy’, ‘Privacy’ and ‘Direct messages’. By default, accounts receive messages from users they follow. If the ‘Nobody’ option is checked, direct messages from no one will be received.
This is a very important way to prevent minors from being exposed to content that is not appropriate for their age and can be easily established. To do this, you have to go to ‘Settings and Privacy’, ‘Content preferences’ and, finally, select the ‘Restricted mode’ to limit the type of content that the little ones in the house can access from their account.
There is another feature called ‘Family Sync’ through which parents can customize the security settings of their children’s accounts according to their needs. How? Linking their own account with that of minors and thus choosing the controls they want to establish. In this way, they will be able to limit the content that their children can access.