TikTok hopes to normalize teenage life

August 13, 2021 | 2 minutes read

TikTok has announced a series of changes to protect the well-being of its teenage users. 

The video-sharing app announced that the new features will allow teenage users to focus on work, study, and sleep more. Users between the age of 13-15 will not receive push notifications from 21:00 and users between the age of 16-17 from 22:00.

It is also changing the default settings to let users aged 16 and 17 choose to receive direct messages. This is to protect teenagers from sexual abuse and pedophilia. 

About the privacy settings and how they will ensure safety

“We want to help our younger users, in particular, develop positive digital habits early on,” TikTok said.

A previous announcement from TikTok launched the feature that restricts direct messages to those above 16 years old only. Now, for 16- and 17-year-olds, direct messaging will be set to “no-one” by default, meaning “to message others, they will need to actively switch to a different sharing option”.

Existing users will be requested to review and confirm the next time they send a direct message. The company said that before under 16s post their first TikTok’s, they will be asked to choose their audience:

  •     Their followers
  •     Only friends
  •     Just themselves

The head of online child safety at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Andy Burrows, welcomed the new measures, saying TikTok was showing “industry leadership” and the move will reduce opportunities for offenders to lure children and manipulate them.

Recently, tech giants have come up with a new feature to protect minors under the new regulations announced. Apple is coming up with new features to scan apple images for identification of sexual offenders and will alert the parents if their child receives or sends sexually explicit material. Similarly, Google announced ways to remove images of children from image search results and changes to its YouTube Kids product.

“The raft of safety announcements we have seen in recent weeks has been driven by the Age Appropriate Design Code coming into force next month and shows the positive impact regulation has on children’s safety,” Mr. Burrows said.

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