By Alexandra Evans, Head of Child Safety Public Policy in Europe
At TikTok, we're committed to working in partnership with parents and guardians as they support their teen's digital journey. We recognize that for caregivers, it can feel overwhelming trying to keep up with evolving trends or new platforms, and talking about online safety with their teens can seem daunting.
We also hear from teens that they want their voices to be heard and listened to. We want to help simplify things by offering caregivers insight on the support teens really value from the trusted adults in their lives - and who better to advise on what they need than teens themselves.
In that spirit, we are expanding Family Pairing by adding advice for parents developed in collaboration with teens and online youth safety experts at Internet Matters.
Parent or guardian accounts currently linked to a teen's account via Family Pairing will receive a notification prompting them to find out more about the support teens would like and their suggestions on how to approach conversations about digital literacy and safety.
Here's the support teens would like from caregivers as they navigate their online experience:
- "Help me understand the rules" - Teens don't expect trusted adults to be experts on every platform, but they value support to set up their accounts. This includes help to check and understand privacy and safety settings. They also told us parents shouldn't be afraid to set boundaries; teens expect and even welcome them.
- "Be available to chat" - Teens want trusted adults to be interested in their digital life and to recognise how important the online world is to them. Be available to chat, and don't be afraid to initiate a conversation.
- "Don't panic when things go wrong" - Your teen has come to you for help - fantastic! They may be feeling vulnerable, scared, embarrassed, or upset, so let them know how pleased you are they've come to you, listen without recriminations, ask questions and focus on solutions.
- "Trust me" - Teens get that trust has to be earned and expect adult oversight, but they feel greater autonomy is appropriate as they get older. Every family is different and the pace at which a teen moves toward the independent use of technology will vary, but if your teen knows how to navigate platforms safely and they come to you when things go wrong, that's a great foundation for trust.
- "Respect my privacy" - Striking a balance between a teenager's expectation of privacy and ensuring they are safe is one of the trickiest aspects of parenting - both on and offline. It can be tough when a teen tells you they'd rather you didn't follow them on a platform. It's natural to worry they're up to mischief when really it's likely they just want some space to hang out with friends without being monitored.
CEO of Internet Matters, Carolyn Bunting (MBE), said: “At Internet Matters, we believe that involving young people in conversations about internet safety is key to understanding the challenges and opportunities they experience online.
“It’s encouraging to see TikTok taking a positive step by supporting meaningful conversations among families to help them use tech safely.
“While we welcome this new initiative, the work to create a safe environment for children and young people to be online is only just beginning and there is more that needs to be done across the whole industry. In the meantime we urge parents to have regular open conversations with their children about their digital life as they build their online presence. These tips from teens are a good way to start.”