Social Media platform TikTok will be disabling direct messages for registered accounts under the age of 16 starting 30 April.
As part of its user safety policies, the ByteDance-owned video platform will also be restricting messages such as only allowing approved followers to message each other, and disallowing images or videos to be sent in messages.
More than ever, families are turning to internet platforms such as TikTok to stay entertained, informed, and connected. This has only accelerated since the COVID-19 outbreak began and social distancing brought families closer together, TikTok’s trust and safety lead Jeff Collins said in a blog post.
According to Collins, with families in mind, the company has made its policies more transparent and accessible, grown its trust and safety teams, built upon the resources in its Safety Center, and partnered with leading online safety organizations including the Family Online Safety Institute, ConnectSafely, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the PTA.
In addition, TikTok is also introducing ‘Family Pairing’ which allows parents and teens to customize their safety settings based on individual needs. Family Pairing will allow a parent to control screen time, while at the same time TikTok has partnered with top creators to make short videos that appear right in the app and encourage users to keep tabs on their screen time. Parents will also be able to limit the appearance of content that may not be appropriate for all audiences.
Collins said “Family Pairing enhances TikTok’s suite of safety tools and complements its work to provide greater access to product features as users reach key milestones for digital literacy. “It is part of our continued work toward providing parents better able to guide their teen’s online experience while allowing time to educate about online safety and digital citizenship,” Collins added.
According to TikTok’s blog post, many users start their creator journey at the age of 13 and are introduced to a wider array of app options for download, making it a critical time for teens and their families to learn about digital literacy and smart online behavior. Hence, TikTok aims to offer a number of resources to support users on this journey, including educational safety videos and parental guides, among others.