TikTok expands parental controls to include search, commenting and account privacy

TikTok today announced it’s expanding its parental control feature set known as Family Pairing to give parents additional tools to manage various aspects of their teen’s account as well as their privacy on the social video platform. The new tools will allow parents to set their teen’s account to private, control whether their Liked Videos are visible to others, control who can comment on the teen’s videos and even decide whether the teen is allowed to use TikTok’s search feature.

When Family Pairing first launched in April, it allowed parents to link their account to their teen’s in order to manage screen time, direct messaging and whether or not the teen’s account would be in “Restricted” mode — a special mode which limits TikTok’s feed to a safer set of more moderated content.

Image Credits: TikTok

With the update rolling out today, parents will now be able to adjust an expanded range of parental control settings for their teen. They can now turn on or off the teen’s ability to access the search bar in the app, where they would otherwise be able to search for content, users, hashtags and sounds. This would be a form of punishment to an active TikTok user, as it would significantly impact the teen’s ability to discover new creators and trends or create content of their own.

Parents can also choose to now turn on or off the ability for other users to see the teen’s “Like Videos” on their profile. And they can limit who is allowed to comment on their teen’s videos by selecting either “everyone,” “friends” or “no one.”

Lastly, they can choose to switch the teen’s account from public to private. The latter would limit discoverability to just those people the teen knows and approves. A private account makes sense for a minor child, of course, but teens often turn their account to public in the hopes of gaining more views for their videos or going viral.

The Family Pairing feature is designed to be used by parents with children age 13 or older, as the app in the U.S. offers a COPPA-compliant, view-only mode for the “under 13” crowd, TikTok for Younger Users.

Families can choose which parental controls make sense for them for use with their teen and for how long. It’s a differentiating feature for TikTok to offer, as other social apps popular with teens — like Snapchat and Instagram — offer no way for parents to limit their teen’s experience.

The features arrive at a tumultuous time for TikTok, whose app is still possibly being banned in the U.S. (but who even knows these days?!).

The company says the new parental controls are rolling out to all users worldwide.