Published on Mar 01, 2023
TikTok's Teens Filter: How it's making it easy for predators to prey on your kid
TikTok has been the favorite among young people and teenagers and has become a household name today. It has been an excellent platform for people to show their talents, creativity, and entertainment. New features like Teen Filter are one of the many reasons for the rapid success of this digital platform.
However, despite its success, adults must remember Child safety, Social media risks, Cyberbullying, Harmful content, and Social media addiction. Teen Filter is fun to use but parents should consider the potential risk that comes with it.
According to Forbes, Tiktok was the most downloaded social media app in 2022, with 672 million downloads globally. Moreover, it has over a billion active users worldwide. The percentage of U.S.-based TikTok users by age is 10-19 years– 32.5%, 20-29 years – 29.5%, 30-39 years– 16.4%, 40-49 years– 13.9%, 50+ years – 7.1%.
So, it is high time that parents, guardians, educators, adults, and child safety advocates learn more about the potential risks social media platforms pose through features like Teenage Filters. So, here are Social media guidelines for kids and teens, Safe online practices, and Digital literacy.
What is TikTok's Teen Filter?
TikTok's teen filter is one of the recent features that has been added by social media, which has gained a lot of controversies. However, before going into more detail about this feature, let's learn what this filter is.
The Teen filter is a feature that enables a user to transform themselves into their younger version of themselves, at least in the pictures and videos.
Who would want to avoid glancing at their younger self? As a result, this filter has seen a lot of success lately. However, this feature has been causing a stir on the internet, where some believe it promotes predatory acts.
Over 1.7 million videos were posted on TikTok using this filter, which shows the success of this feature. But are Online Predators utilizing this feature for unethical purposes? First, let's see if this feature needs to be revised for young users.
It is straightforward to use the teen filter. We have listed the step-by-step process to use this feature.
How to Use TikTok's Teen Filter?
To use TikTok's teen filter, you can follow the guidelines below.
- Open TikTok application
- Click on the search button in the top right-hand corner.
- Search for the #teenagefilter hashtag.
- Click on the results, showing two camera views (one of them of a person's current face and another with the teenage look applied).
- Click the 'Teenage Look' effect officially created by TikTok.
- Select the 'Use this effect' button at the bottom of the TikTok filter page.
- Tap on the screen once to switch the view to just the teenage version (if you don't want a comparison of the actual and filter).
- Record the video
- Add items like additional filters, texts, and Stricker (option).
Voila, you have made a TikTok using the teenage filter. Now that we have learned the step-by-step process of using this feature, let's also look at some of the potential threats of this filter.
The Problem with the Teenage Filter and Risks of Predatory Behavior
The teenage filter is undoubtedly one of this famous social media platform's most used yet problematic features. Grooming of young kids, normalization of pedophilic activities, and Cybersecurity breaches are some of the few problems created by the teenage filter.
Some creators are seen touching their faces in amusement while reminiscing about their older selves while others have some words of criticism.
- A TikTok user writes "This stuff worries me with its implications. There’s something so weird but also so dangerous about a young girl’s face on a woman’s body."
- Other users express "This seems dangerous" and "Like it would make it easier for online predators to impersonate children."
This filter has been creating a great sort of reaction from the Non Gen Z and yes this includes the predators. The platform has made it easy for anyone to change their appearance and strangers are well aware of it.
Predators can use this filter to create a deceiving profile, which will make it easier for them to target minors who are naive. They might approach children for friendship and then establish trust. After this, it is easy for any predators to prey on the kids. They may influence them to share confidential data or engage in inappropriate acts.
The young users might find it challenging to recognize the dangers as the predators are so well hidden behind the filter. Avoiding exposing children to an unsafe digital environment is better than realizing any problem after it's too late.
Check out the major risks associated with Teenage filters in young users.
Grooming and Manipulation of kids
As we have already seen, many young users are on this social media. These features make it difficult for the users to differentiate from other users. Predators can gain the minors' trust using this filter and make monitoring more challenging. After that, they can start grooming the kids (establishing trust, strong emotional bonds, and relationships to manipulate and exploit them).
Kids might be enthusiastic to try new things as a part of Influencer culture and Online communities. This is the time when they are most vulnerable and let their guards down and the predators can easily manipulate them for any possible reason including gathering personal information.
Normalizing Pedophilic Behaviors
There might not be anything worse for the parents to learn that their children are susceptible to being the victims of pedophilic behaviors. This filter makes it virtually impossible for parents and young users to know their online identity or who is behind the camera.
The predators can use this feature to gain their trust and do any unethical acts against the kids like sharing inappropriate images and videos like pornography or engaging in other sexual activities.
Critics also claim that the predators can engage in cyberstalking the minors or adults who have been using the filter. There is a high chance that these predators feel attracted to minors.
Importance of Parent's Knowledge of the Predatory Behaviors
As kids are susceptible to being manipulated by strangers, it comes down to the hands of parents to monitor who is interacting with their kids. After confirming there is no possible threat, the parents are also suggested to check the contents so they are exposed.
The relationship between the child and family can help in improving the knowledge about the websites in different ways.
Children have limitless possibilities via the use of smartphones and the internet. However, the cases can not always be for the better. Therefore, protecting children online, Monitoring online activity, and ensuring Internet Safety have become the top-most priority for every guardian.
The predators (usually strangers) might also be targeting the children to acquire personal and confidential information from the kids rather than engaging in other inappropriate activities. As a result, it is time for parents to understand the online grooming signs and monitor their screen time.
The Importance of Education and Awareness
In a time when the internet has become an integral part of our lives, education and awareness has become very important for children's online safety from various threats, including online predators. We have explained why education and awareness are essential among children for digital protection.
Parents should have knowledge about predatory behavior as they are one of the few people, kids might share anything (if they share a good bond). Moreover, they have access to whatever their children are being exposed to, which makes it mandatory for them to learn about the online dangers like predators.
Firstly, if the adults have knowledge about these risks they can prioritize monitoring their children which might prevent any potential predators from engaging with them. Secondly, they can warn the young ones about these threats and teach them to report any suspectful activities. As a result kids become more rational and better decision makers.
Parents’ knowledge about predatory behaviors can also reduce the other similar cases as follows.
- The University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center reports that kids are more likely to pressure each other to send or post sexual content than an adult.
- The 2021 annual report on “self-generated” child sexual abuse content, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) noted an exponential increase with the biggest category of victims were girls between 11 and 13 years old.
Identification and Understanding of Online Risks
The education and awareness among young users will enable them to identify and understand the threats concerned with online interactions. This might include online grooming signs and cyberbullying. Moreover, cybersecurity threats like sharing personal data or having inappropriate communication can be identified before anything wrong happens.
Prevention of Online Threats
The proper education and awareness will prepare kids to make rational decisions and actions if they encounter inappropriate or doubtful online interactions. They can report these acts or refer their parents and guardians to take necessary steps to prevent online danger.
Correlation among the Kids and Parents
The mutual relationship between the parents and kids will help them establish an understanding among themselves. In addition, this will promote Parent-child communication as the children seek help from their parents after they are comfortable discussing their problems.
Educating Young People about Online Safety and Responsible Digital Citizenship is the responsibility of guardians and following them is the discipline of their childrens.
Tips for Staying Safe on TikTok
Parents are responsible for creating a safe environment for their children as more than mere education and awareness is required. Although TikTok is one of the most user-friendly social media with proper in-app control features, terms, and conditions, we have some part on our behalf to stay safe on TikTok.
Here are a few tips for staying safe on TikTok.
The parents can make the children's TikTok safer by setting the account private. This way, we can access the children’s videos with the people we select. Moreover, we can control who can and cannot interact with the kids. This way, we can avoid interaction with any unknown people while helping the kids follow their passion.
Report Inappropriate Items
Reporting anything that breaks the community guidelines of TikTok will ensure that this platform can keep safe, as other people will not be exposed to this inappropriate content. Therefore, responsible users are expected to report these contents immediately after coming across them.
Similarly, you should avoid letting kids create and post anything that might pose danger for them.. Always remember that once you post something online, it will be there forever (even after you delete it).
Keeping Personal Information Private
You should avoid sharing personal information on social media platforms, especially when your account is public and accessible to everyone. The personal details like full name, contact details like phone number and email address, address and other information should be kept out of reach. It will avoid any identity theft, Cyberstalking, and other digital risks.
You can disable the location services in the phone setting to prevent others from knowing your location.
Use Parental Control Apps
Parental control apps can act as another reinforcement for the safety of kids. These apps can restrict the use of social media platforms, create strong passwords and set screen times for digital use. In addition, these programs are known to have extra protection for children. For instance, Fenced.ai is a well-known app and program to monitor the kids and their activities.
In addition, these apps and software will prevent kids from using and exposing themselves to inappropriate content.
So, features like "teen filters" in TikTok are a massive threat to the younger generation. However, parents can attain appropriate Digital Citizenship with the proper knowledge of how to handle the apps and limit their uses and misuse among the kids.
These cutting-edge technologies have been a great source of entertainment and also a threat. The danger of online predators is always lurking behind the digital media. Although all strangers and random people may not be bad for kids, it is always suggested that parents should keep their children safe from the unknown.
Online predators are always looking for opportunities to groom and manipulate the young and naive. This can be avoided by the solutions suggested as above. As seen in many examples, Talking to kids about online behavior is one of the best ways to protect young users from online threats.
Along with parent-child communication, the kids and parents should be educated and aware. Privacy settings, reporting inappropriate content, keeping personal information a secret, and using parental control apps are some of the few ways to ensure online safety.
If the content of this article was relevant and valuable to you, it might be helpful for your loved ones. Share the article to help others recognize these problems and their solutions.
Which age group of kids should use TikTok?
Although the preferable age group to use TikTok is 18 or above, it can and is being used by any group of people. So, the group under 18 should be closely monitored for their uses.
Is TikTok appropriate for kids?
TikTok is a platform where anyone, including kids and young adults, can show their talent and earn a decent income. It is safe and appropriate for kids if they are properly monitored.
What is the minimum age for using TikTok?
The minimum age for using TikTok is 13. However, users below 13 can use the app with access to limited features.