The popular video-focused app TikTok features short videos with durations ranging from 13 seconds to three minutes and includes entertainment, stunts, pranks, and tricks. With its steadily growing youthful audience and popularity that hasn’t shown signs of waning, the company continues to make its mark in the world of social media. Owned by Chinese company ByteDance, the social media giant reported earlier this year that it has one billion active global users. 

   Parenting expert and author Kimberly A. Morrow is looking to arm parents with information to help keep their kids safe on TikTok. 

   “I’m not one who is on TikTok, but my children certainly are, and I wanted to get this information out there,” said Morrow. “I’m also not a TikTok influencer, but I am a parenting expert and I want to make parents aware of the different things that are going on and what they can do to protect and empower their children.”

   Morrow’s tips include the following: Gradually introduce TiKTok to your kids at 13; Talk to them about Cyberbullying; Set their account to private; and Make sure they are Share Aware. 

   “ is what Tik Tok was before,” explained Morrow. “Some Tik Tok users were users before merged with Tik Tok. Those tips just included the past name users who are familiar with will understand.  Make sure your settings are set to private.”

   Morrow also offered these tips:  Get familiar with the community guidelines; Be aware of explicit songs on the app; Turn on Digital Wellbeing settings on the TikTok app; and Know-how and when to report a problem.

   “There is this whole social media phenomena around TikTok right now,” she said. “My students tell me it’s easy for them to get access to TikTok and that it’s easy for them to create a video and upload it. I want parents to make sure their children are not putting personal information out there, their passwords are protected, and that they are changing their passwords often. Just like with Facebook, people can hack into their accounts and create dummy accounts. I want parents to be aware of ensuring that whenever their kids are on TikTok or other social media platform and not using their own personal device, they should always log out.

   “Just little things that seem like they’re very common sense. But a lot of times, we forget those things. I’ve gone to public places like a library where they have public computers, and I’ve come behind someone else who’ve left their email information up or didn’t log-out of their Facebook account. That’s very unsafe.”

   Morrow shared one person’s experience: 

   “Hackers can steal your identity,” she said. “As parents, we think our children are immune to that, but they aren’t. I had a former student who came to me and said someone in another state had stolen his identity. For many years, the person was using his identity and he didn’t find out until it was time for him to get a job.”

   Morrow has a master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard University Graduate School of Education and is founder of the Doris L. Morrow Academy, named after her late mother. She is the author of “8 Pearls of Wisdom: A Parenting Guide”. Through the book, she shares inspirational stories of hope and success in the classroom while also addressing issues that affect students. 

   “Parents should just remember they are still the parents,” said the mother of three. “Kids feel like parents knowing what they are looking at is an invasion of their privacy. No, at the very least we should know what our children are looking at. It’s not a matter of invading their privacy, it’s a matter of keeping them safe. It’s called parenting.

   “There are some inappropriate dangerous, TikTok challenges that are going around. There are certain things that are inappropriate and illegal, and children should not be participants in that. Parents need to also make sure children are not following the lines of bullying because their children and them can [get] into legal trouble if they are engaging in any type of cyber bullying. These are things parents should definitely be aware of, as they’re allowing their children to get on TikTok.”

   A native of Chicago, Morrow was raised in Los Angeles, California. 

   “A lot of people are getting famous and making money on TikTok,” said Morrow. “People should feel empowered to become entrepreneurs. But at the same time, there are people out there who don’t have their best intentions. The main thing for parents is not to be afraid of technology. It’s good for their children to become young entrepreneurs. But be knowledgeable and be safe.”

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Ursula V. Battle
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