Nurturing Your Teens’ Digital Wellbeing on TikTok This School Year: Tips and Tricks from an Expert
by Tracy Elizabeth
As a former educator, a mother and TikTok’s Head of Family Safety & Developmental Health, I know firsthand what it’s like to face the evolving challenges of raising children in today’s media-saturated world. As a parent, I find real comfort in and take pride in being part of TikTok’s infallible commitment to fostering a safer and more positive online environment for all families.
At TikTok, my team and I are constantly working to implement evidence-based policies that prioritize the safety and positive development of the teens who use our platform. In our collaborations with trusted partners, such as the Digital Wellness Lab, the Technology Coalition and Thorn, we continually ask ourselves important questions: How can we protect teens while allowing their creativity to flourish unchecked? What tools can we provide to parents and caregivers to empower them in guiding their teens’ digital experiences? How can we share our knowledge with parents and caregivers of teens to ensure they, too, feel confident about our platform?
To that end, here are five things parents and caregivers can do to nurture their teen’s well-being on TikTok.
Know the rules, use the tools
Teens will be teens, and today’s teens tend to use social media. If you don’t already have a TikTok account, set one up and learn how to use it together. Our digital Guardian Guide gives parents and caregivers an overview of TikTok and the many tools and controls we’ve built into it to keep our community safe.
Put the ‘talk’ in TikTok
Adolescence is a time for exploration, and teens are naturally curious about different communities and connecting with a variety of topics. Rather than having them go it alone, be part of that exploration! Try hosting candid family conversations about the ways in which your teen engages online, including and beyond TikTok. This will help bolster their sense of digital citizenship and empower them to be mindful of their own safety on the internet.
Family Safety Mode links a parent’s TikTok account to their teen’s and makes it possible to guide their digital well-being. With Screen Time Management, parents and caregivers can limit how much time their teen can spend on the app each day. It also lets parents and caregivers limit who can send messages to their teen, turn direct messaging off altogether, and restrict the appearance of content that might not be appropriate for their teen.
What every parent loves: a good checklist
We’ve listed the most important options for setting guidelines on appropriate TikTok use in our downloadable TikTok Guide for Parents. Whether it’s setting your teen’s account to private, controlling their comment section, or restricting a Duet or Stitch, it’s all there. (And if you don’t know what I mean by Duet or Stitch, the guide also includes a glossary of basic TikTok terms!)
Remember: it’s about context, not control
Have a conversation with your teen about what they’re watching or posting on TikTok. Use it as an opportunity to get to know what their interests are and what gets them excited, but also to have more serious conversations about what’s comfortable for your family. Kids don’t always understand the rules, but they do appreciate it when adults help them check and understand privacy and safety settings.
Navigating the digital landscape is an ongoing journey and TikTok is committed to providing support to parents and caregivers. As parents, it’s important we unite with guardians, educators and tech platforms to keep digital spaces safe and enjoyable. After all, we all share a common goal: to nurture an enriching online world that uplifts the social development of our youth and fosters family bonding.
About the writer
As a former teacher, mother and Head of Family Safety & Developmental Health at TikTok, Tracy Elizabeth occupies a unique position to address the challenges faced by parents in today’s digital world. Her extensive academic background, including studies in Adolescent Development & Media, Risk & Prevention, and Education, equips her with the tools to navigate the complex intersection of technology and family well-being.
Within TikTok, Tracy leads teams that are wholly dedicated to ensuring the safety and positive development of younger users. Her teams develop evidence-based policies, organize content to be age-appropriate and passionately advocate for inclusivity and creativity. Tracy’s journey from education to technology underscores her unwavering commitment to leveraging technology for the betterment of children and families.