Skip to main content

Is TikTok safe for 11-year-olds? What you need to know

You may not personally use TikTok, but chances are that you have seen at least a few viral videos that have come from users of the insanely popular social media app. You can create, post, and discover all sorts of content — cute mini dance snippets, funny lip-syncing montages, and much more. It’s fun, it’s engaging, and it’s catchy, but it’s certainly not harmless — so don’t hand your phone over to your tween just yet. All forms of social media have some potential pitfalls, and the dangers of TikTok are real; you’ll want to educate yourself and your child before participating in any online shenanigans.

teenager on phone
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Is TikTok safe for your tween?

These days, it seems like every kid has a phone with all the bells and whistles, plus every downloaded app at their fingertips. But the reality is: Children shouldn’t have unlimited access to social media. There are various mental and physical safety concerns to consider. Cammy Bowker, founder of Global Education Philanthropists, shared a few of the biggest drawbacks with NewFolks:

  • Social media makes you vulnerable to predators: “All social-media platforms have the option to communicate with kids, and child predators spend time on the same apps as our children because they are the target,” Bowker said.
  • Exposure to unsafe and dangerous content: As noted by Bowker, while there is plenty of wholesome content to be consumed, there is just as much featuring “oversexualized images and conversations.” You don’t want your child seeing or even emulating these things, or feeling confused by the mixed messages that come from social media. Moreover, trendy prank and “stunt” videos present real physical danger to young children excited to try these acts on their own at home.
  • Social-media anxiety: Growing up is hard to do, and social media — including TikTok — can set the bar very high for kids and make them feel inadequate. You don’t want your child to thrive on likes, comments, and views — and you don’t want them subjected to online bullies or trolls who exist for the sole purpose of being anonymously mean.

How old do you have to be to use TikTok?

In accordance with children’s privacy laws, TikTok users must be 13-years-old to get their own account. This wasn’t always the case, though. In early 2019, the company had to pay $5.7 million to the Federal Trade Commission as a result of not instilling an age limit and allowing children under 13 to log into their app without a guardian’s knowledge or consent.

Of course, not all 13-year-olds are ready for TikTok. You have to decide if your child is emotionally mature enough to handle social media. Moreover, you should have ongoing conversations about social-media usage — it’s a privilege, not a right, to be on TikTok; your kiddo needs to be responsible, and you need to be actively involved.

tween taking selfie
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Tips to Keep in mind if you let your child use TikTok

You don’t have to restrict access completely until your child graduates high school or flies the coop. Bowker said, “With proper education and open communication, once a child is a teenager, it may be possible for them to responsibly use social media.”

She elaborated, “The problem is, I rarely see proper monitoring, education, and communication. Instead, cell phones are just handed to kids without any discussion on the dangers of the device and platforms that are accessible.”

With that in mind, here are some steps Bowker suggests taking to protect your child:

  • Stay involved: “Parents need to be aware of what type of videos their children are posting, and what message they are sending with their TikTok posts,” Bowker said.
  • Lead by example: “Look at [your] own interactions/posts on TikTok and other platforms. If parents are using social media to be a sex symbol, how can they expect their children not to permit sexual behaviors online?” Bowker said.
  • Use parental controls: TikTok has recently launched its own internal parental-control features that give caregivers remote access to restrict a child’s account. The Family Pairing ability links a parent’s account to a child’s, so adults can restrict direct message access, set usage time limits, and more.
  • Try outside monitoring systems: Caregivers can also use a monitoring system to get better insight into their child’s social media usage. Bowker recommends the Bark app or a filtering program such as The CleanerNet. Still, she is clear that software isn’t a substitute for your proactive involvement: “The bottom line is that parents still have to remember it’s their responsibility to teach their children.”
  • Consent with consideration: Remember, privacy and social-media footprint are not only issues for tweens and teens; they’re a concern for all users — so do your due diligence and interact with the app yourself before consenting on behalf of your child.

Without a doubt, playing on TikTok can be awesome. It can even be considered a creative outlet for tweens. But if you’re asking yourself: Is TikTok safe for an 11-year-old (or whatever age your child is), take a step back and evaluate your kiddo’s personality, maturity level, and digital usage. Social media is a double-edged sword, and you need to make sure they’re ready. It’s not all fun, games, and lip-sync videos, after all.

Editors' Recommendations

Lauren Barth
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Lauren Barth is a freelance writer and digital editor with over a decade of experience creating lifestyle, parenting, travel…
Can pregnant women eat shrimp? What you need to know
How to safely eat shrimp during pregnancy
Pregnant woman on a bed

There are a lot of rules about what pregnant women should and shouldn't eat, so it's not surprising that many wonder if pregnant women can eat shrimp. After all, there are concerns about many different foods and varieties of seafood that aren't safe for pregnant women to consume, but is shrimp included in that list?

Can pregnant women eat shrimp?
You've probably heard warnings against pregnant women eating certain seafood while pregnant, including seafood high in mercury content like fresh tuna, swordfish, and shark. Fortunately, seafood like shrimp contains only low levels of mercury, making it safe for pregnant women to eat. Although shrimp is considered safe for pregnant women to eat, the FDA suggests that they limit how much seafood they eat weekly. A general guideline is no more than 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week.

Read more
Baby play mat ins and outs: What age you should get one and the benefits for baby’s development
Play mats are fun for babies of all ages
Smiling baby on colorful play mat

There seems to be an endless array of baby gear available for little ones as they grow and develop, and it can be hard to determine which products are worth the investment. Play mats are a must-have item for many babies because they can provide endless fun and stimulation for your little one, not to mention allowing them to play on their own.

A play mat gives your child a comfortable spot where they can play on their back or their tummy and practice rolling over while also giving parents a nice break from holding or entertaining their baby. It's also a nice place where baby's classic toys are within easy reach for your mini human. 

Read more
Need a fantastic theme for a fifth birthday party? Consider these
Birthday party ideas for five-year-olds they'll love
5-year-old girl celebrating her birthday

Turning five is fabulous. It marks the end of the preschooler stage, which makes it a milestone birthday. That first day of kindergarten is right around the corner. Planning a five-year-old birthday party is super fun. Kids at this age are pretty easy to please. They love running around and playing games. There is also a plethora of awesome five-year-old birthday party ideas that rock. In honor of five, let's take a peek at five fantastic themes for a fifth birthday that get the guests moving because that is what five-year-olds love to do.

5-year-old birthday party ideas
Since most of your guests will be four turning five or five already, an outdoor party or one at an indoor venue where kids can get active is a perfect pick. Having structured activities is key with this age set. If you do decide to hold your kiddo's fifth birthday party outside, be sure to build in a rain date. Always have extra hands to help keep the games and activities focused. Tweens and teens are great for this. Here are five fav five-year-old birthday party ideas that will be a huge hit with the guest of honor and friends.
Kick it
The four and five-year-old set need to be active, and many of them probably just started lacing up the cleats to give soccer a try. If yours is loving soccer, then a soccer party is a major score. Plenty of indoor facilities host soccer birthday parties, but if you don’t want to use a venue, you can certainly hold your own. If your backyard is large enough, you can turn it into a soccer field. Otherwise, look for field availability at a neighborhood park or high school. Sometimes, permits are required, so check with your town’s recreation department first.

Read more