TikTok videos are taking over the Internet, proving that short, snappy content is the key to drawing in a big audience these days. TikTok launched in 2017, and this platform for creating and sharing 15-second lip-sync, musical, and comedy videos quickly skyrocketed in popularity. When a similar video-sharing app, Vine, shut down in 2016, it left a gap in the market, and TikTok came into play as its successor. YouTube hosts longer videos, and Instagram and Snapchat stories are suited for more personal vlogs, but TikTok brings the best of several platforms together. Like Vine, the short-form videos are perfect for fast consumption, and the user feed is similar to Instagram, making it fairly intuitive for the typical teenage user.
To skip straight to the how-to section, click here.
In 2018, TikTok became the most downloaded iPhone app, surpassing popular social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. Although it’s slipped in the ranks since then, it’s still among the top five most popular apps, and it’s been downloaded over one billion times. This app is all the rage amongst kids and teens worldwide, and it’s easy to see why: these short, funny videos are addictive, and it’s easy to spend an hour or two scrolling through them and laughing with your friends. Plus, the musical features set it apart from Snapchat or Instagram Stories, and it’s a platform where young people can express their creativity.
With a TikTok account, you can create and share your own videos, and you can watch, like, and comment on other users’ videos. Just like on Twitter and Instagram, you can follow users whose content you really like, and your feed will display their new videos as they post them. With a click of a button, you can use a sound from someone else’s video, and users have taken advantage of this feature to participate in challenges, sharing their own unique videos set to the same songs. People can also record their own original songs and audio.
The user base for TikTok skews young, and the app has caught on with Generation Z in particular. While they’re less likely to use platforms like Facebook, apps that provide a more creative alternative to traditional social media are catching on with this demographic. And for some users, investing time and effort in their TikTok videos has paid off in a major way. For example, Lil Nas X, the artist behind the viral hit “Old Town Road,” originally became famous on TikTok, and his massive following on the app eventually helped him achieve mainstream, chart-topping success.
But for all the perks of using TikTok, there are also some drawbacks to this app. With millions of kids spending time on TikTok, parents are wondering what their kids are really watching on this app, and just how many hours they’re spending scrolling down their TikTok feed.
Concerns About the Rise of TikTok
As TikTok rose in popularity, people began expressing concerns about some widespread problems with the app. Since the average user age skewed younger, parents were worried about their children’s security and having their personal information compromised. Some users reported that they were dealing with targeted cyberbullying on the app.
Furthermore, TikTok has proven to be a pretty addicting app. Watching one or two videos can quickly lead to wasting hours on your phone, and the fact that the app is geared towards young people means that many of its users probably aren’t thinking about the drawbacks of extensive screentime. But limiting screentime is actually especially important for young people: research indicates that when teenagers spend hours on their phones each day, they’re more likely to be depressed, easily distracted, anxious, and lonely.
It’s totally possible for kids and teenagers to use apps like TikTok without suffering ill effects – as long as they can keep their usage in check. But with a smartphone in hand, kids can get carried away, and they might not want to put their phones down when it’s time finish their homework or go to bed earlier on a school night. Applications like Freedom, as well as parental control features provided by TikTok, can help parents teach their kids to set healthy limits on screentime. Here’s how Freedom can help TikTok users find balance between enjoying silly videos and staying focused when it’s time to be productive.
How to Block TikTok on an iPhone or iPad
1. Go to the App Store, download Freedom, and sign-up. Click on the Freedom icon to launch the app.
2. Click Blocklist, and then tap Add a blocklist.
3. Name your blocklist.
4. Tap Add Block and enter the URL tiktok.com, then click Add. After naming your block list, tap Save in the upper right corner of your screen.
5. Want to block TikTok now? Click the Start Session icon. Select the correct blocklist, then choose your iPhone, iPad, or both from the Devices list. Finally, decide on a session length, or click End Time to choose when you want your session to end. Click Start to begin your block session.
6. If you’d like to schedule a block session for TikTok to start later in the day, tap the Sessions icon, then click Schedule a Session.
7. Name your session and decide on start and end times. Next, choose the blocklist you just created and set the device to your iPhone or iPad. Tap Save, and your session is all set to begin later.
8. To schedule a recurring session, tap Repeats and select the days of the week you want to implement the block.
How to Block TikTok on an Android Phone or Tablet
1. Click on the Freedom icon to launch the app, and then click Blocklists. Next, tap Manage next to Blocked Applications.
2. Scroll or search for the TikTok app. Can’t find it? Click the three dots next to the magnifying glass icon and check Show All Apps. When you find TikTok, slide the toggle to the right to add the app to your Blocked Apps list.
3. Tap the Start Session tab. Click Blocklists, and then click Block Android Apps.
4. If you want to begin your block session now, tap Start Now and then choose the Block Android Apps blocklist, the devices you want to include, and when your session ends. Finally, tap Start Session.
5. If you’d prefer to start your session later, click Start Later. Decide on your start and end times, the devices you want to include, and then select Create Schedule.
6. Want to set up a recurring block session? Tap Recurring, choose your start and end times, and then select the days of the week when you want the block session to repeat. Finally tap Create Schedule.
Recurring Sessions and Locked Mode
With Freedom, you can schedule recurring block sessions to begin at the same times every week on the dates you select. Want to make sure that your kid isn’t reaching for their phone to scroll through TikTok during school hours? You can work with them to set up a block schedule so that they won’t get distracted when they should be studying.
Want to make sure that TikTok is blocked, with no ways to circumvent the block session? Try Locked Mode. Locked Mode is a Freedom feature that prevents users from cancelling the session after it starts. Once the block begins, you’re totally committed, so this option is perfect for those days when you simply can’t afford to lose your focus.
TikTok Parental Controls
Since TikTok is aimed at a younger demographic, it’s only natural that parents might have some concerns about what kind of content their kids are exposed to when using this app. Whether you’re worried about your kids receiving messages from strangers, or viewing inappropriate videos, TikTok has several parental control options that will allow your child to enjoy the app without compromising their safety.
Under TikTok’s Privacy and Safety tab, parents can help their children make their profiles more secure and ensure that they’re only connecting with friends they know. While TikTok profiles are initially always made public by default, switching them to the Private setting takes just one click. If you don’t want strangers stumbling across your child’s profile, you can disable the “Allow others to find me” option. You can also change the settings to allow only friends to leave comments on your child’s videos, react to their posts, or send them messages.
TikTok also has a Duet feature, which allows users to create split-screen videos with other users. Parents can also change the settings on their child’s account so that they can only access the Duet option with friends.
The Digital Wellbeing tab also gives parents access to additional security options. By choosing Restricted Mode, parents can ensure that TikTok will only display age-appropriate content in the For You section, which suggests random videos based on a user’s watch history. Restricted Mode will filter out any videos containing mature content.
Finally, the Screen Time Management feature can bring parents peace of mind if their children have been spending a little too much time on TikTok. When you enable Screen Time Management, you can decide how much time you want to allow your child to spend on TikTok each day, giving parents the option of 40, 60, 90, or 120 minute time limits. TikTok will require the user to enter a password after they’ve used up their allotted time. This tool can help your kids limit their time spent scrolling and focus on what really matters.