Generally speaking, parents everywhere should be careful about letting their kids join social media platforms. You should talk to them ahead of time about the potential dangers, and also let them know that you’ll have access to their passwords and accounts and will be free to check their activity at any time.

Savvy parents are already doing these things, but every time a new app gets popular, they face a new learning curve. And while TikTok is super fun, very popular, and used by kids around the world, it probably comes as no surprise that people who are looking to prey on those kids are on it, too.

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A former basketball coach in Iowa was found to have sexually exploited and abused 400 boys. 400 innocent lives. Many of these children were led to believe they were chatting online with a teen girl sending nude images of themselves. Some were basketball players he coached. If you follow us on FB or Twitter, you can find the link to the news report. With the mission of protecting children we do not promote social media as harmless fun for children. Nearly every app and game has chat functions that enable strangers to talk to children – even with privacy filters, there is no way to 100% block communication from people unknown to a child. To suggest that children are capable of managing their own safety is naive at best. Predators continue to flourish on the internet because it takes a lot of time, often months, and some luck to catch them. For every perpetrator convicted there are countless that are harming children -even as you read this. Please, think long and hard before putting your child into the world of social media. Consider the many risks and few benefits that come from access to so many negative and unproductive influences. Talk to youth leaders about prevention training and policies to reduce risk and empower children to know they have a right to be safe. Make sure anyone you trust with your children knows you promote body safety. Awareness can deter abusers, be that voice. #rockthetalk #mamabeareffect #childsexualabuse #childexploitation #yso #youthsports #socialmediamom #preventionispossible #parenting #parentingblogger #parentingtips #socialmediasafety

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TikTok was developed in China and, since its launch in 2017, has been downloaded more than 80 million times – handily surpassing Snapchat in popularity. The platform allows 3 to 60 second videos and encourages interaction in multiple ways. The app allows users as young as 13 to sign up without parental consent.

Australian cybersecurity expert Susan McLean is adding her voice to the chorus yelling that the space is not even close to safe for kids, due to the access it gives people looking to groom and bully them.

“Any app that allows communication can be used by predators. TikTok does not have the same safety sessions as some of the more well-known apps and routinely do not remove accounts that have been flagged as potentially a predatory. …The data gathering is a huge concern and if the government is worried then it is not a place for kids.”

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Thank you so much Jenny Gatlin Breazeale for hosting a parents conference on Social Media-Balancing Safety & Reality at Elberta Elementary this evening. Parents were served soup, an awesome cookie bar for dessert….and there was child care for the young kids! We had a wonderful group of engaged parents and teachers. We laughed a lot, (back row I’m looking at you😄), we cried some, and we learned so much from one another. This is my third year being invited back to speak with this community and I am SO THANKFUL for teachers, parents and administrators like Jenny that recognize the importance of education….and empowerment…when it comes to protecting our children online. As parents, as adults…WE get to lead this charge. WE can protect our children. Knowledge is power.

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Setting your kids’ accounts to private will keep them from being contacted directly through the app, but TikTok admits that “even with a private account, profile information – including profile photo, username, and bio – will be visible to all users.”

Reports from the United Kingdom claim that kids as young as 8 were getting bullied, groomed, and spammed with explicit messages.

A representative reminded parents that the app ages are 13+.

“TikTok is an app for users age 13 and over, and we’ve give the app a 12+ App Store rating so parents can simply block it from their child’s phone using device-based controls.”

Kids are vulnerable to predators on all social media apps – really anywhere online – so talking to yours about how to respond and what to do if and when something happens to them is vitally important. You and your kids should be aware of the dangers, no matter how tough the conversation, because you’ll need to partner up to keep your little loves – and hopefully others – safe online.

For now, definitely don’t let your under-13’s talk you into TikTok, and when they do age into the app, be sure you’re checking up on their activity regularly.

It’s a brave new world, parents, but we can do this together!