TikTok Adds Family Pairing Feature to Give Parents More Controls Over Teens’ Accounts

Time spent on the app each day can be set, and direct messages can be restricted or turned off

Family Pairing will be rolled out over the coming weeks fizkes/iStock
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TikTok introduced a new Family Pairing feature, which enables parents and teens to work together on customizing their safety settings on the video-creation application and tailoring them to each individual.

Family Pairing will be rolled out over the coming weeks, and it will enable parents to link their TikTok accounts to those of their teens and set various controls.

Parents can determine how much time their teens can spend on the app each day, and TikTok teamed up with some of its top creators on videos that will appear in the app and encourage users to monitor their screen time.

Senior director of trust and safety Jeff Collins said in a blog post, “These fun videos use the upbeat tone our users love while offering a suggestion to take a break and do something offline, like read a book.”

Parents can also enable a restricted mode that limits the appearance of content that may not be appropriate for the age groups that their teens are in.

Direct messages can be turned off altogether, or parents can restrict who can send message to their teens’ accounts.

Collins said only approved followers can message each other on TikTok and, starting April 30, direct messages will be disabled for registered accounts under the age of 16.


He wrote, “Many users start their creator journey at 13 and are introduced to a wider array of app options for download, making it a critical time for teens and their families to learn about digital literacy and smart online behavior.”

National PTA executive director Nathan Monell said in the blog post, “As a dad of two teens, I see how TikTok enables them to express their thoughts, feelings and creativity; have fun; and connect with their friends, especially in our current environment. At the same time, though, it’s important for me—as it is for all parents—to help my teens be responsible and safe creators. National PTA applauds TikTok for listening to parents’ needs, expanding its age-based features and creating Family Pairing. Supports like these will give families a greater sense of confidence and comfort, and will help them guide their teens to make good decisions online.”

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children president and CEO John Clark added, “We’re grateful to TikTok for its leadership in prioritizing safety and education because we believe those efforts are a critical step in helping families safely navigate the online world.”

ConnectSafely co-founder and CEO Larry Magid said, “ConnectSafely believes that parents should work with their families to establish digital literacy milestones. The Family Pairing and age-based features embedded into TikTok help families build a path to safer online behavior and to become a good digital citizen.”

And Family Online Safety Institute founder and CEO Stephen Balkam added, “FOSI’s aim is to inform and empower parents – that’s why we developed 7 Steps to Good Digital Parenting and many other resources to navigate the online world with kids. We’re thrilled to see that TikTok’s age-based features will offer families important guidance on key digital literacy milestones and the importance of being a good digital citizen.”

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.