I let my daughter have TikTok… and then I took it away

Zoey is eleven. I’m saying that right out of the gate so people know. And please don’t send me a bunch of nasty hate comments because your kiddo’s younger than that and they have TikTok and it’s absolutely fine. If your kiddo has it and it’s working for you, by all means, keep going. I’m not the decider of all deciders. This is just what happened in our family. So anyways, here’s what happened.

About six months ago, we gave Zoey one of our old iPhones. Awwww shit, here come the nasty hate comments about how she’s too young to get a phone. It’s all relative people. The kids in her grade have been getting them for a long time, and we got to the point where she was feeling left out, so we took the plunge.

Mostly she just used it for these humungous text groups of kids saying crap like, “Let’s make the longest text message ever and set a record!” and then they’d just keep writing “hi” over and over and over again until it was pages long. And then some kid would say a bad word and Zoey would say it’s a bad group and she would leave. And then someone would add her back. And then she would leave again. It was annoying but manageable.

Then one day she came running in and said, “Mom! Can I get TikTok?!” Now I’m in social media so you’d think I’d be all savvy about TikTok, but don’t forget I’m 47 and totally lame so it was kinda new to me. 

What does CommonSenseMedia say?

The first thing I did was look it up on CommonSenseMedia. FYI, this is one of the most helpful websites ever and gives the best advice about movies and apps and how old kids should be to see them. CommonSenseMedia says that TikTok is for kids 15+. Parents who have reviewed TikTok on CommonSenseMedia says it’s for kids 14+. And kids who have reviewed it say 12+. Ummm, I should have paid attention.

Why I let her have TikTok anyway

Here’s the thing. Zoey LOVES making videos. Like she’s been doing it for years and does all these cool stop-motion ones and even did one with potatoes wearing googly eyes once and it was hilarious.

I thought TikTok would be an awesome way for her to make more videos, and I’ll just make sure to set her account to private and use the kid settings to protect her. Ennnh, bullshit.

I did everything I could to make sure her account was safe. Private account, didn’t use her real name, I had to approve of each follower, set it to the child settings, yada yada yada, and after she and I talked about some rules, she started making videos. Oh man did she make videos. Tons!! Some of them were soooo creative and cool, and some of them were dumb as a rock. But that wasn’t the problem.

This was the problem

She started surfing the many videos other people made. And at first it was awesome and she got lots of ideas about new videos she wanted to make. But then one night we put her to bed and she kept popping up like a Whac-A-Mole and I was like aggghh, go the F to sleep!!! And that’s when she told us. “I can’t. I saw something scary on TikTok and I can’t get it out of my head.”

It was a VERY scary video. It started out all normal. A girl was mad at her parents and yelled, “I wish you were dead!” And the next morning she woke up and there was a creepy man in her house, and he whispered, “Careful what you wish for,” and then she saw both her parents stabbed to death with knives.

Ummmm, this would scare the crap out of me and I’m 47. But we told Zoey she needs to understand that it’s totally fake and they’re just trying to scare little kids and that she needs to think of happy thoughts and erase stupid videos like this from her head.

She did it!! She got over it and finally went to bed that night.

But a week or two later the Whac-A-Mole returned at bedtime.

This time she saw a video about a girl who looked in the mirror and her reflection turned into a scary demon.

So again we told her to stop surfing TikTok and to try to remember it’s fake. 

And a week later…

A video about an older couple that found blood seeping from the walls in their house.  

I told her to try to forget about it. I told her none of it is real. And last but not least, I told her I’m sorry, I’m taking TikTok away. It wasn’t a threat or a warning. It was just what was going to happen. After our conversation, I marched straight to her phone and removed TikTok.

I was prepared for her to freak out, but so far she hasn’t said a word. Phew. But we’ll see. I won’t be surprised if within a week she’s yelling at me and saying it’s not fair!! Although I’m pretty sure she won’t yell, “I wish you were dead.” Heyyy, maybe TikTok did teach her something.

Mistakes can be fixed

As parents, we sometimes cave and let our kids have shit that’s not great for them. A huge box of candy before noon. An entire day of television. A sundae even though they didn’t eat their veggies. And it’s totally fine because it’s not really gonna hurt them. But sometimes we make a mistake and give them something that really can be harmful. Maybe it’s something like TikTok. Maybe it’s a movie we shouldn’t have turned on and we realize in the first five minutes. Maybe it’s letting them ride without their car seat before they’re big enough. 

And I know there are plenty of people out there who think you can’t take stuff away once you’ve given it to them. No takesie backsies! But I don’t think so. If something might hurt your kid, you can always take it back. It’s okay to say, “I’m sorry, Mommy made a mistake.” I made a mistake by giving Zoey TikTok. And I’m owning up to it.  

If you liked this, please don’t forget to like and share it. And feel free to be honest in the comments as long as you’re nice. Thank you!

There are 28 comments for this article
  1. Melissa at 10:19 am

    I totally agree tiktok can be scary but extremely funny too (at least in kid world) my 10yr old loves memes I don’t get them but he loves them so he watches them all the time. Technology today is a tough choice on parents. Like just being a parent isn’t hard enough add YouTube and tiktok to the mix. I married a gamer and a Techie Nerd so its a hard balance in our house. I agree with you 100%. You are a great mom would love it if you were my neighbor u are so darn funny. I love ur posts and look forward to your crazy normal stories.

  2. Mary Schneider at 10:27 am

    Youtube might be a better platform for her. Same interaction and filtering, but they do have better settings, IMHO than TikTok.

    It’s a very important skill, to be able to do stuff like that- I’m a freelance writer and marketer, and video creation and that sort of content is in high demand.

  3. Laura at 10:37 am

    This is exactly what happened with my daughter! She’s only 9, but her dad let her start surfing Tik Tok. Once she ran into one of these scary videos, she told US that she was done with it. There’s just no way to filter it all.

  4. Lisa at 10:39 am

    Been there, done that. It’s a learning opportunity for all. Plus, parents owning up to mistakes is good role modeling for the offspring.

    • Judy at 11:25 am

      Totally agree Lisa. They need to know that parents are human!

  5. Eva at 10:42 am

    I love this. I made a similar mom mistake. I let my 8 year old son play Fortnite. He hooked immediately. But then he started having nightmares. We had a long discussion about deleting the game one night. The next morning he told me he deleted it on his own. I thought my son could handle it because it wasnt “gory “. I’m gonna just let my kid be a kid.

  6. Maria at 10:44 am

    Thanks for sharing. I too have let my daughter scroll through and Joe I’m going to think twice about it! ( she is 10)

  7. loriflori at 10:46 am

    You always can appease her by saying she can’t have it NOW but she can have it when she’s 15. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

  8. Skylar Estes at 10:48 am

    My husband’s daughter got Instagram when she was 11 or 12 and we did all the protective things. One day I noticed there was a location tag on her photo and I looked, it was so specific it showed where she was standing outside when she uploaded the photos. Someone could have driven straight to our house. It was terrifying.

    We homeschool our kids so when my 10 year old begs for a phone we remind her she is never away from us. With the shut down we did let her have an old phone and kids messenger so she can talk to friends and cousins. I myself am new to Tiktok and I will be very careful what I watch from now on.

  9. Loren Moeller Carson at 10:57 am

    Thank you for this article. It helped me spark some good conversations with my 11 & 13 year olds. Older one has TikToc account and one just watches the videos without an account. Love your blog!

  10. Michelle Outmezguine at 11:09 am


    This is just one of the many MANY articles about how TikTok is the numnber one app for pedaphiles and for the grooming of young girls. It’s HORRIFYING! Girtls as young as 9 posting videos of themselves dancing and men messaging them telling them take off their clothes and that it’s ok if they don’t have breasts yet, they still want to see them. *Shudder* My daughter (also Zoey!!) is only 7 so we’re not at the social media stage yet, but you absolutely did the right thing by taking it away. There just isn’t enough control over what your kids see.

  11. Karen at 11:10 am

    I think my kids found the same scary videos but it might have been on You tube (or even you tube posts of TikTok which’s how my kids get around not having the actual App). It’s hard to unsee that stuff. And hard to keep these videos under control with the extended access the kids have these days.

  12. CJ at 11:36 am

    Thank you so much for this!!!! My daughter is also 11 and very interested in watching a few very sweet you tube families who all have Tik Tok! They are sweet wholesome families who do a lot of fun stuff and challenges etc…. She gets lots of great ideas and also loves making videos! She is also terrified of scary stuff on TV! She has been begging me for Tok Tok…. Being an essential worker, I have been overwhelmed with work, homeschooling, and moving! I told her I’d research and consider, after we moved, as I am 50 and also rather in the dark about the whole thing! So she asked again last night if I had time to look into it! This post popped up! I read it to her! She seemed relieved to know other kids really wanted it, and it wound up inappropriate in a way she really understood and felt connected to! She literally skipped out of the room without any push back… So again…..Thank you so much!

    • Jenn at 11:52 am

      I could have written this message, that’s me! I will read this article with my son tonight & hope he has the same understanding

  13. Jenn at 11:49 am

    No Tik Tok in this house either, based on my research with CommonSenseMedia and my own perusal of the vids. Some were totally genius & hilarious etc, some were sexual or otherwise inappropriate, and I was afraid to come across scary ones like you described ( my 11 yr old wouldn’t put them out of his mind so easily, I know! And nor would I) my child keeps begging for it, and I’m just going to be a “bad mommy” for awhile and not give it to him.
    Now if only I could figure out à away to retract YouTube ?

  14. Suz at 1:24 pm

    wow, this got to me- my daughter is 9, I let her have tik tok just recently becuase they finally did create more saftey rules or privacy settings compared to the first round when it was Muscl. I I have it on my phone as its technically my account but her name- and I can see all that is happening and control it – such as delete a video that I dont like, and we have it set to private, with no direct messages, comments turned off etc from anyone thats not in the approved 24 followers that are actual friends. Now I wonder if any of that matters. But what happened here, was more that she came across videos that were inappropiate, less about scary people contacting her directly. either way- sigh.

  15. Sarah at 1:35 pm

    My daughter has TikTok. At her father’s house. It is banned at my house. We had a discussion about social media and as parents decided together she would not have/do social media things until she was 13. He caved. Got her a phone, let her have the accounts. Read the fine print. As much as you protect your child, the videos when uploaded belong to TikTok. They can do with them as they please. That didn’t sit well with me. I absolutely wish I could take back his decision to cave and delete her account, but since we are divorced, I don’t have access to her phone/tablet at his house. So, we have LOTS of conversations about the videos and I ban it at my house. I can only do so much. Le sigh.

  16. Catalina at 4:47 pm

    Thank you for this. It’s a real struggle for me. Turned into its own pandemic in my home during this pandemic. My son all’s loves making videos. Anybody know of a kid friendly app an 8 year old can do this with???
    Tic Tok needs to go from my house!

  17. Jennifer at 6:05 pm

    Omg this happened to me with my 6 yr old daughter just this week. Not on til too though. She was only listening to my little pony music videos on YouTube . Then one of the videos started out as the normal pinky pie smile song and then mid video, she screamed bloody murder. Pinky pie morphed into some demon and killed all the other ponies! People are sick making kids videos and doing that. She is traumatized. Stopped playing with pinky pie and now no more YouTube.

  18. Devin at 9:20 pm

    I agree, we should always be honest and admit when we need to rethink something for the benefit of our kids. My daughter (10) started using the regular YouTube app instead of YouTube kids and ran into some scary videos as recommendations – she told us and we said “sorry, it’s back to the kids app until we can figure out a better plan.” All her favorite Minecraft videos are easier to find on the regular app but she also ends up watching a ton of other things that just aren’t as useful or expose her to too much too soon. She asks for Tiktok regularly and I remind her about YouTube and that we just aren’t there yet.

  19. Sapna at 9:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing. To be honest, my 12 yr old still doesn’t own a phone. I think having a cellphone is a privilege and not a necessity (yet).
    I gave her a spare old phone with only wifi to play some games and set up google hangouts for her to speak with her friends when at home. I am not ashamed to randomly check the messages and most of them are Hi’s and hellos 100 times until the other person responds. But I did see some comments from her ‘friends’ saying that my daughter was a goody two shoes who listened to her parents and would not read 13+ Books and see 14+ movies because her parents do not allow. Well, that is how it is supposed to be. It still hurts me to see that what I think is right and what is right is being mocked at.
    We download apps, delete them if not good all the time. But she isn’t allowed on any social media and I am too skeptical about tik tok and the stupid challenges, can be scary sometimes. I would rather have her 10 books to read. I told her that real friends will accept for who you are.

    May be my soon to be 13 daughter thinks that I am being too strict As we aren’t allowed to meet friends in this pandemic unlike some of her friends who are still being irresponsible and meet up!

    But I am not guilty at all. And I hope my daughter grows to be a guilt free mom.

    And you are doing good, there is nothing wrong in teaching our kids to try things and let them stumble and learn from failures. May be I should get some courage from you and start doing that.

  20. Rachael at 5:14 am

    My 10 year old begs and pleads for tik tok, mine craft and some other blox game. I’ve held my ground so far, as has my ex husband. My mom would let her watch tik tik videos occasionally, but when she came home singing songs about dancing like a stripper, that stopped as well.

    Tech these days is hard. I sometimes hate Facebook because of all the negative. Kids don’t need that. You did good moms.

    Hopefully Zoey gets it. She’s a good kid. She’ll be fine?

  21. Rixie at 8:23 am

    Thank you! Great reminder that we parent and we are human and so we make “mistakes.” I just think its hard to keep up with technology and screening for our kids. I am struggling with this and my kiddo is younger than your Zoey — not looking forward to some of this intensifying as my kiddo gets older.

  22. Emma at 11:44 am

    Thanks for sharing! I feel leas like an asshole for not letting my 10 year old have Tiktok even though all her classmates do!

  23. tracy bennett at 11:40 am

    Loved your article. It’s totally tough figuring the social media apps and safety out. Your 11 year-old may be a little young for my Social Media Readiness Course (which I’d love to talk to you about). But our free CONNECTED FAMILY SCREEN AGREEMENT is an awesome start. Please email me if you’d like to try out our new course. We just launched it and it’s already selling. 🙂

  24. Krisalyn at 6:47 pm

    Wow, I have been on Tiktok for 6 months and have never seen anything remotely scary. I wonder if the algorithm actually targets kids for these videos.

  25. Stephanie at 10:52 am

    I am having a real hard time with Tik Tok and I need some advice from a mother raising another gen-z daughter! My daughter (who is now almost 14) has been on tik tok since she was around 10. It seemed to be okay for years. We have all of her settings on private, etc and I have access to her account. She also has other social media such as instagram and snapchat and facebook but tik tok has slowly become noticed as a huge problem now.

    When she was 11, she had a small bullying incident with some girls at school and had a very hard time going back to school after this happened. We did online school and temporarily moved her to another school, which none of these worked out. She has just really been struggling for 3 years now. She sees a therapist because she suffers from anxiety and depression. She hadnt had this problem since the bullying happened.

    Looking back, Im realizing its not the minimal bullying that happened, its the tik tok that has made her self esteem so low and has created this little girl who is so worried about what others her age think of her. I had taken tik tok away last year for a fee months because I found some disturbing behavior with her vidoes showing how she was depressed. Its become a fad to be depressed these days!! These fads are enforced through social media! She used to be such an outgoing, care free, outspoken girl!!

    Last night, she told us she is bisexual. I am very close with my daughter. My daughter has never kissed a boy or girl or has never had a crush on either. She is very involved in dance competitions and it turns out the majority of the girls (20+ girls) at the dance studio are bisexual and many identify as transsexual or have no gender. My daughter still identifies as a girl (she is very girly and wants to be like a doll) but girls she is surrounded by are all trans or have no gender and are bisexual as well. These girls who claim this are very girly as well. One girl has changed her name to a males name but she is very feminine. Ive looked at many of their tik tok accounts and its all about their gender and sexuality. This seems to be the thing these days. The pop stars and social media stars she is obsessed with have recently come out as bisexual with no gender (identifying as they/them). My daughter says her own gender is still a she/her. So its just the bisexuality for her right now.

    Again I am very accepting of her no matter what and I find nothing wrong with being bisexual but I am VERY CONCERNED that she is so strongly influenced by what’s going on on tik tok. Im so very worried about her wanting to have a mental illness. She is on this tik tok a lot, it consumes her life. If she isnt doing schoolwork, shes on tik tok. She is very intelligent, already aspires to go to college and become a lawyer. She has strong political thoughts of what is going on in this crazy world today and shes very strong willed about everything. This is hard to handle in today’s society. She has opinions as if she were a 50-70 year old woman!….meaning already stuck in her ways and having hard opinions on life.

    I want her to continue to tell me everything. She is my only child and between us and her dad, we are a very open and close family. I am strongly wanting to get rid of tik tok for good but Im worried that now that she has told us about the bisexuality that she’ll feel we arent accepting of her. We are. We just dont want her to be this strongly influenced by everything she sees on social media. We want the anxiety and depression to stop!

    Any healthy advice would be appreciated.

    • Lisa at 3:25 pm

      If you believe in prayer… You should pray! Pray for your daughter, pray with your daughter. Maybe try a one month break from tiktok. Do things together or with friends, activities that have nothing to do with any social media. Go for walks, enjoy nature. Visit a zoo or an aquarium. Adopt a pet. Talk about your worries and concerns. Don’t talk more than you listen. But don’t take everything she says as a truth set in stone. Kids change their minds and their attitudes all the time. The emo/bi/ depressed/world doesn’t understand me… it’s been around for a long time. Even when we are truly feeling something, we can still change our minds and our hearts.
      I am 43 and I use to embrace depression like it was my only true friend. I didn’t want to sell out and be happy to lucky. But being depressed, or thinking that’s all I could be… It never ever helped me in any positive way. It wasted my time, years of my life. I’m still not a happy hour lucky person. But I pray and I try to keep a positive attitude and it helps me to be a better person who can help others. As for sexual orientation, kids these days think they have to pick something. Maybe explain to her that there is absolutely no rush in deciding that. We don’t have to fit into a category.