How much data is TikTok collecting about your children, and how can you best protect them?

Is your child on TikTok? If so, the chances are they are giving away more information than they realise. Discover how much data TikTok is collecting about your child, and how you can best protect them.

TikTok was the most downloaded social media app in the world in 2020 and is particularly popular in children. In fact, young users aged ten to nineteen made up 25% of TikTok’s users in 2021, the largest share of all age groups.

Whilst the app is a great platform to use fun filters that change your appearance, it is important to consider your child’s data security and safety when using the app. 

Cyber security experts at decided to investigate just how safe your child’s data is in the hands of these apps and goes on to give privacy and safety advice. TikTok’s privacy policy was studied to reveal what types of data they collect from ‘regular users’ as well as ‘younger users’, aged 12 and below. 

What is the ‘Younger Users’ version of TikTok?

For children under 13, TikTok has created a ‘younger users’ version of the app to comply with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that limits what data the app can collect from them. It is not a redesign of the app made for kids, but rather an absence of features from the regular version. 

Less data is collected from TikTok’s younger users compared to users aged 13 and over. Younger users also cannot publicly share personal information, including videos or profile details. 

Still, the app collects a significant amount of information regardless. According to TikTok’s privacy policy, it collects information such as:

  • Name
  • Birth date
  • Username
  • Password
  • IP address of your child’s device
  • Browser details
  • Location

It is important to note that children can set up a regular TikTok account simply by changing their birth date. If this is the case, your child could be at risk of much more data being collected – detailed below is the difference in data collection between a regular users account and a younger users account.

What data does TikTok collect?

By default, TikTok collects a lot of data about user activity. They share this data with third parties, like their business partners, service providers, and advertisers, among others. The following is what TikTok collects about its users on both the regular app and the ‘Younger Users’ version, according to the company’s privacy policy. 

(AGED 13+)
Login informationUsername and passwordUsername and password
Personal informationDate of birth, proof of identity or age*Date of birth
Contact informationEmail and/or telephone numberEmail and/or telephone number
Profile informationProfile photo, profile video, and information disclosed on the user’s profile
Device informationIP address, user agent, mobile carrier, time zone settings, identifiers for advertising purposes, model of your device, the device system, network type, device IDs, screen resolution and operating system, app and file names and types, keystroke patterns or rhythms, battery state, audio settings, and connected audio devicesDevice ID, IP address, web browser type, and version
LocationLocation information based on SIM card and/or IP address, precise location data (such as GPS)*Country-level location
App activityPreferences, list of followers, and list of followingVideo watches, time in the app, and general usage data
User contentPhotographs, audios, and videos the user uploads or creates, comments and livestreams made by the user, clipboard data*
ContactsPhone contact list, Facebook contact list
In-app purchasesPurchases made, date and time when purchases were made, amount spent
Payment informationPayment card numbers or third-party payment information (such as PayPal)

How to set up a safe TikTok account for your child

Here are five steps to setting up a safe TikTok account for your child.

1) Sign up with a unique username or email

It is not recommended to sign up using another app, like Instagram or Google. The most secure option is to use a username or email that doesn’t relate to your child’s identity in anyway (no real names).

It’s a good idea to create an email just for social media in case the account gets hacked, which is known to happen on other social media like Facebook.

2) Choose interests and notifications

Have your child choose interests or skip this option. The app will also ask if it can send notification.

3) Don’t allow it to sync your contacts

The app will ask you if it can sync device contacts. Say no to this because it gives TikTok access to details about your device and contacts.

4) Don’t use a profile picture

Encourage your child or teen to use an avatar instead of a selfie or other photograph for their profile as this picture will be visible to everyone, whether their account is public or private.

5) Set up the privacy security settings

To find these settings, go to the homepage and find the Profile icon in the bottom right corner. Next, click on the three lines at the top right corner and click on “Privacy.” From that menu, you’ll be able to change several security settings.

Make sure your child has a private account by clicking the slider until it turns green, this will make sure that only approved users can follow their account and watch videos.

How to keep your child safe on TikTok

A large part of keeping your kids safe on TikTok is about reducing contact with strangers or harmful content. These features hold the key to how your child interacts with others on the platform.


If the account is set to private, this is automatically turned off, and others cannot download your child’s videos. Users under 16 cannot have their videos downloaded. 16 to 17-year-olds will have the feature set to “off” by default, although they can change this at any time.


You can choose who can comment on videos, approve comments before they become visible, filter out offensive words. 13-15-year-olds can only choose from “Friends” or “No one” for the comment setting.

Following List, Duet, Stitch

You can choose who can see your following list, Duet videos (videos that show your content side-by-side with another user’s), Stitch videos (adding your video to someone else’s), and your liked videos.

You can set your privacy settings to “Friends,” “Followers,” or “Only Me.” No one can Duet or Stitch with a video created by a user younger than 16. However, anyone can Duet or Stitch with users over 16. For 16 to 17 years old, the default option for who can Duet or Stitch with their video is set to “Friends.”

Direct Messages

You choose who can send your teen direct messages from either “Friends” or “No one.” Depending on your teen’s age, direct messages may not be available.

Make are you are vigilant about your child’s safety o their behalf acknowledge that ensuring a child’s safety on the internet can be a tedious undertaking. After all, why would a 10-year-old care about data security? The chances are they won’t – they just want to watch funny videos on their phone.

That’s why it is important as a parent to stay vigilant and critical about what kind of data these apps are collecting and where they may be using them on behalf of your child.

‘Free’ apps and services still need to make money, so if users aren’t paying for services, it is likely that they’ll be making money elsewhere. And that is highly likely to be by sharing your data with third parties.

Photo by Luke Porter