TikTok’s New Age Policies: What Parents Need to Know

a woman opening TikTok on her phone - TikTok's New Age Policies

If you’ve been standing around the watercooler lately (do people actually do that anymore?), you may have heard a rumor about TikTok going 18+ on November 23. What a fabulous Thanksgiving gift, right?

Before you start gagging on your cranberry sauce, however, here are the details.

Turns out that, indeed, there will be some content intended for older folks on its way (more on that in a bit), but the main change is that folks who watch TikTok LIVE will need to be 18 or older.  

What is TikTok LIVE? Well, as its name implies, it is a real-time interaction aspect to TikTok. Up to this point users ages 16 and over could launch LIVE streams, and 18-year-olds could send or receive gifts in real time.

With this change in place, everything livestream is totally shifted to 18 and above only. (TikTok has also decided to automatically disable Direct Messages for any registered accounts belonging to those under 16.) So, it’s a safety feature of a sorts.

That, however, opens the door to adult-only livestreams … with this caveat. TikTok assures parents that, no matter what you’ve heard, the adult-only stuff is more for classification than actual, uh, adults only! If anything, it’s a way for creators to prevent minors from encountering content that’s aimed toward an adult audience or may be of little interest to kids.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the language and discussion topics won’t get more spicey and such—even though I imagine they definitely will. But supposedly all of TikTok’s previous restrictions on nudity, abuse and self-harm are still fully in force. The TikTok guidelines put it this way: 

“We strive to create a platform that feels welcoming and safe. We do not allow nudity, pornography, or sexually explicit content on our platform. We also prohibit content depicting or supporting non-consensual sexual acts, the sharing of non-consensual intimate imagery, and adult sexual solicitation.”

So, what will this adult-only stuff be? TikTok released a blog post that said this:

“We plan to introduce a new way for creators to choose if they’d prefer to only reach an adult audience in their LIVE. For instance, perhaps a comedy routine is better suited for people over age 18. Or a host may plan to talk about a difficult life experience, and they would feel more comfortable knowing the conversation is limited to adults.”

On the other hand, how-to conversations about pet neutering or business document filing could get that adult-only labeling, too. (Frankly, those sound too adult for me!)

Oh, and while were on the topic of guidelines and safety features, did you know that there are some relatively new “parental controls” for moms and dads to use? Yep. The features, collectively referred to as “Family Pairing,” allow parents to set controls on how long Junior is able to use the TikTok app; gives them control over who their teen can direct message with; and lets them turn on TikTok’s “restricted” mode in order to limit inappropriate content.

The catch is that parents are required to set up their own TikTok account with which they can link to their teen’s account. (Only kids 13 and older are supposed to be allowed.)

So, there you have it. And of course, if the company line on the adult stuff is a wee bit off the mark and more visual spice and skin starts appearing—which wouldn’t be a huge leap from some teen TikToks already out there—we’ll be sure to let you know.

Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.

4 Responses

  1. – That feature sounds like a great idea. Even the thought of what children can be exposed to is horrifying. Don’t forget some PC monitoring software too. AeroAdmin for instance offers the option for Parental control. Wish we didn’t need to use any of this, to be honest.

  2. -There’s absolutely no reason for kids to be on TikTok. Or adults, for that matter. It seems to be just a massive surveillance scheme masquerading as a social media app. Research it.

    1. Hi, Lisa. We suggest you read all of TikTok’s guidelines to answer your question. As referenced in the article, we do know parents can create their own account and link to their child’s account. We hope this helps!

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