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…
7-Up: What’s the game and how to play it
Do you remember how to play 7-Up?
Five kids each giving a thumb-up

Raise your hand if you have played the 7-Up game in school? Hands should be shooting up all around because 7-Up is an elementary-school classroom classic. The popular school game is also known as Heads Up, 7-Up, Heads Down, Thumbs Down, or Thumbs Up, 7Up. Regardless of what you called the game as a kid, most parents are familiar with the format and the kiddos just can't get enough. The majority of elementary-school educators have led a round or two of 7-Up at some point in their teaching careers.

Seven-Up is also a summer camp staple on rainy days. It’s an easy game to get going and a fun way to keep a group of children occupied, especially when waiting or transitioning to another activity. To play, you need at least 14 kids, which is what makes it an ideal school or camp game. Seven-Up can certainly be played with less kids, but it's not as much fun. So, are you ready to get those thumbs up? Let's learn how to play Heads Up, 7-Up.

Read more
How to teach a child to swim: Methods you need to know
Tips for teaching your child to swim when they are ready to learn
Adult teaching child to swim in a pool.

While watching your child jump into any open water could be a bit, parents don't want their child to be afraid of the water. Swimming is a fun activity that helps promote a healthy lifestyle, a great way to stay cool in the hot summer months, to get indoor exercise during the winter, and it's a life skill to have. Typically, the recommended age for lessons is 4, but there's really no incorrect age for how to teach a child to swim.

Swimming is an important lesson to learn for your kid’s enjoyment and especially for their safety. We'll share great methods and fun ideas on how to teach a child to swim so they'll become strong, happy, and confident fish in the water.

Read more
How much water should a 1-year-old drink? What you need to know
Here's how to keep your little human hydrated
Toddler drinking glass of water.

Once your child is eating solid foods, they need to drink enough liquids to balance their diet out. Milk is likely still a huge part of your child's daily diet, with them probably drinking it more than water. Although milk is important for toddlers to drink to help with the development of their bones and teeth, it's important they drink water every day. If you're wondering how much water should a 1-year-old drink, here's what you need to know.

How much water your child should drink
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 1-year-olds should drink 1 to 4 cups (8 to 32 ounces) of water per day and 2 to 3 cups (16 to 24 ounces) per day of whole milk.

Read more