What parents should know about TikTok, the latest app obsession

Suzanne Monaghan
February 16, 2020 - 1:30 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The latest social media obsession for many kids is TikTok, a free app where users can watch and record videos of themselves lip-syncing and dancing to popular music and sound bites.

For the most part, TikTok can be fun as long as kids only connect with people they know personally, sing and dance to appropriate content and make their accounts private. But there's the temptation to keep the account in the default public setting in an attempt to get more likes and become famous.

Denise DeRosa, founder of Cyber Sensible, said that becomes a concern. "They can connect with someone you don't want them to and they can see something that you don't want them to see," she warned.

"We just think of traditional media as television, right? But this is the media that they're using. This is the current medium. And so if someone has 10 million followers that's an audience of 10 million people." 

DeRosa cautioned that the desire for fame could entice kids to do things they wouldn't normally do, such as acting out explicit lyrics or participating in dangerous challenges.

"You do something. You get attention and then the next time you have to kind of kick it up a notch or be more provacative or maybe be sexier, or maybe say something a little bit more outrageous to get more attention and then you keep having to level up."

TikTok does have features to limit time spent on the app and the appearance of inappropriate videos. However, DeRosa said that doesn't guarantee safety.

"You can use those parental controls, you can set the safety settings and you can do as much as you possibly can but nothing is 100% foolproof," she warned.