TikTok to launch parental controls globally, disable direct messaging for users under 16

TikTok is introducing a new set of parental controls to its platform to users worldwide, including in the U.S. The features, collectively referred to as “Family Pairing,” will allow parents to set controls on Screen Time Management, Restricted Mode, and Direct Messages for their teen users. It will also now disable direct messaging for users under the age of 16 in all markets. A similar set of features was launched in the U.K. in February, designed with European laws and regulations in mind.

In that market, the features were called “Family Safety Mode.”

Today, is the official introduction to “Family Pairing,” but TikTok says the worldwide rollout will take place over the “coming weeks.”

To use the new controls, parents of a teenage user age 13 and up will be able to link their account to their child’s, which requires the parent to set up their own TikTok account. This will allow the parent to set controls on how long their child is able to use the TikTok app, turn on or off who the teen can direct message with, and they can opt to turn on TikTok’s “restricted” mode for the child’s account, in order to limit inappropriate content.

The latter is not a well-explained feature. But for an app of TikTok’s scale, it’s likely based in large part on users flagging inappropriate videos they come across. Parents should be aware, then, that this is not equivalent to setting parental controls on a video streaming app, like Netflix, or restricting what a child can download from the App Store on their phone. In other words, some inappropriate content or more adult material could slip through.

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