TikTok is one of the fastest growing social media apps. It is a platform for creating, sharing and discovering short videos. We’ve put together our top tips to help you safely navigate some of the online challenges.

How does TikTok work?

TikTok is an app that allows users to create, share and discover entertaining videos. Users can combine video, music and graphics into funny and creative videos – by using TikTok tools users can alter the speed and add Augmented Reality effects. Most videos are  around 15 seconds.

The homescreen suggests videos to watch and lets you follow other users – and be followed in return. It encourages users to participate in group challenges, use hashtags based on a certain meme, or videos based on a popular song.

Users also have the ability to live stream content if they are over 16 and people over 18 can purchase and give (or receive) virtual gifts.

How can you create a TikTok account?

You can download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play.  New users can create an account using their phone number, email or other social media accounts. The recommended age for TikTok users is 13 and above.

Is your TikTok account private?

The default setting for a TikTok account is public which means anyone can follow you, although you can set an account to private mode. To do this, go to your Profile, tap the three dots in the upper right portion of the screen, and then navigate to Privacy and Safety.

If you set your account to private, you can approve or deny your followers and limit incoming messages to followers only. TikTok users profile photo, username and bio will remain visible to all users.

TikTok’s privacy policy outlines the information they collect, why it is collected and the options you have to limit the information you share.

To change your account from public to private:

  1. Go to the ‘Privacy and Settings’ screen and tap Privacy and Safety
  2. Turn Private Account on

How can you follow people?

You can follow anyone with a public account but if their account is private, you must get their permission to follow them. Everyone on TikTok has a profile that shows their followers, who they’re following, and how many likes their videos have received. The profile also shows all the public content posted by the user.

How can you control duets?

You have the ability to decide who you make duets with and how you react to your content. You can apply an account level setting to all your videos or you can choose to  enable or disable duets for just a particular video, too.

To enable restrictions on who can create duet videos with you:

  1. From your profile, open the Privacy and Safety settings
  2. Tap ‘Who Can Duet With Me’
  3. Choose the setting you prefer (Everyone, Friends, or Off)

How can you report online abuse or block someone?

You can report abuse, spam, or anything else that doesn’t follow Community Guidelines to TikTok. You can also block a user so they won’t be able to view your videos or interact with you through direct messages, comments, follows, or likes.

Advice for parents

What are some of the online safety challenges?

TikTok accounts are public by default so anyone on the app can see what your child shares, but only approved followers can send messages. Some of the most common concerns with TikTok is that users can see inappropriate content or be contacted by people they don’t know. For users under sixteen, TikTok defaults to having the direct messaging function turned off.

Does TikTok have any safety features?

TikTok’s Family Pairing feature is designed to protect children. You can control how long your child spends on TikTok, limit or turn off direct messaging and block potentially inappropriate content. To do this:

  1. Go to ‘Privacy and Settings’
  2. Under ‘Digital Wellbeing’ select ‘Family Pairing’
  3. Identify which phone belongs to the adult and the child

It also worth exploring their Safety Centre either with your child or on your own so you can understand the experiences they are having. TikTok also list their top ten tips for parents and have  dedicated resources for parents that you might want to read. It explains how to set up restricted mode or establish screen time limits.


What’s Netsafe’s advice?

Take the time to teach your child the online safety basics before they start using social media and have regular and open conversations with them about their use of online apps helps mitigate potential harm.

Encourage your child to share with you if they have upsetting experiences and make sure they’re aware that any harassment, inappropriate language, bullying or hacking can be reported to TikTok.

You don’t have to be a tech expert to keep your child safe. Our Parent Toolkit offers practical tips and tools to start the conversation with your child about online safety – and have ongoing conversations – and shares insights into the five main challenges young people experience online.


If you or someone you know needs help or advice with online challenges, you contact us by:

  • emailing help@netsafe.org.nz
  • texting ‘Netsafe’ to 4282
  • calling toll free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)
  • making a report using our online form.

Our helpline is open from 8am – 8pm weekdays and 9am – 5pm on weekends.

If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, call 111.