TikTok gives parents more control over their kids' accounts

"Family Pairing" lets parents block content and limit screen time.

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The TikTok logo is seen on a screen over Times Square in New York City, U.S., March 6, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Andrew Kelly / Reuters

TikTok was recently fined $5.7 million for violating the child privacy act and has been criticized for putting children at risk from predators. The company is now trying to give parents more control over their kids’ privacy and security with a feature called Family Pairing. It lets parents link directly to their kids accounts and remotely disable direct messages, set screen time limits and enable “restricted content” mode.

Earlier this year, TikTok introduced “Family Safety Mode” that allowed parents to set up similar controls. However, that feature required direct access to the child’s phone, though the controls could be protected by a passcode.

Now, once your account is linked to your child’s phone, you can set all of them remotely. That includes specifying how long your kids can spend on TikTok each day, which content they can see (including the ability to restrict age-sensitive videos), and who can send messages to the account.

Your kids must agree to the linkup, and you’ll need to scan a QR code in the digital well-being section of their account. Your children can disable the feature, but you’ll get a notification when that happens and can re-link accounts remotely if need be. TikTok also addressed a major privacy issue by disabling direct messages for all users under 16.

The new measures earned praise from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s president John Clark. “We believe those efforts are a critical step in helping families safely navigate the online world,” he said in a statement.

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