TikTok Guide for Foster Parents

Important announcement. Concerns and guidelines for TikTok app users

Parents and foster carers need to be able to help teens learn about digital safety and how to manage their online presence. 

With 40% of the 800 million active users on TikTok between the ages of 14 and 24 there is increasing responsibility to understand the dangers of social media and teach children how to be aware online.

TikTok is a short-form video platform that is promoted as a light-hearted, fun app. However there have been various security concerns raised and it’s worth knowing a bit more about these as you help your child to navigate in their social media world.

Data Collection: The data TikTok collects from users contains sensitive information and is often taken without the user’s explicit knowledge. This data includes device brand and model, Operating System (OS) version, mobile carrier, browsing history, app and file names and keystroke patterns or rhythms, wireless connections, and geolocation.

Access Concerns: To use the platform, users grant the app access to their microphone and camera. TikTok uses facial recognition software to superimpose images on users’ faces for use in videos. Unlike other data that is collected, biometrics represent the physical user and are generally permanent. Biometrics are therefore of high intelligence value.

What Does Giving Permission Allow TikTok to Do?

1. Access the camera (take pictures/video), the microphone (record sound), the device’s WIFI connection, and the full contact list on the device.
2. Determine if the internet is available and access it.
3. Keep the device turned on and automatically start itself when the device restarts.
4. Secure detailed information on the device user’s location using GPS and other apps that are running.
5. Read and write to the device’s storage, install/remove shortcuts, access the flashlight (turn it off and on), request additional installation packages.

TikTok app logo

Researchers also found that TikTok has full access to the audio, video, and address book on the device. More importantly on Android, the app has the ability to access other apps running at the same time, which can lead to it having the ability to access data in another app like a banking app.

This doesn’t mean that we should all stop using TikTok. By being aware, we are all able to limit the use of personal data in numerous ways which helps to mitigate any risks.  As parents and foster carers, knowing more about the issues make it easier to talk to young adults and teenagers using TikTok, about the dangers it poses to their personal security.

Follow these links for more information to help you

Get more information about a range of social media and online safety issues from Common Sense Media’s online parent area: www.commonsensemedia.org

Image of someone holding an iphone and loading TikTok app on the device