What Is TikTok Live?

The Bark Team | August 25, 2022 | Kids and Technology Parent Tech Tips

TikTok Live logo

If your kid has the TikTok app on their phone or tablet, it’s important to understand what the live feature is and how it works. Even if your child is just scrolling through their For Your Page, they may stumble upon one in real-time.

TikTok is a fast-moving app, and you never know what you’re going to see each time you flip your finger across the screen. The chances your kid may hear or see inappropriate content is extremely high, even if they aren’t actively seeking it out. 

What is TikTok Live? 

TikTok Live is the platform’s version of real-time video streaming. It originally only allowed creators to upload short video clips and then interact with viewers through a comment section. The live feature allows creators to turn their cameras on and start talking to viewers in real-time. It’s different from uploaded videos because everything happens in the moment, and there’s no time limit on how long a live can last.

There’s also no censorship on a live video, so anything that happens while the camera is turned on is instantly shown to all viewers in the “room.” Viewers are known to screenshot and record live streams. Because of this, content creators may never live down something embarrassing that happens while they’re live.

How Does TikTok Live Work?

Content creators with at least 1,000 followers can go live on TikTok, and the minimum age limit to livestream is 16. Many users upload videos to TikTok without ever going live, even if they have enough followers. Those who do want to go live can click “create” in their TikTok account, then enter the LIVE navigation section. They set an image and title for their livestream and hit “Go Live” when they’re ready for TikTok viewers to see them in real-time.

Live hosts can use a variety of filters and screen settings to alter how they’re seen by their viewers. For instance, they can use a screen behind their face to block whatever is in their background. This is how many creators prevent viewers from seeing inside their homes or figuring out their location. Hosts can also mute or pause the livestream if needed.

What Can Happen During a TikTok Live?

TikTok livestreams attract kids and teenagers of all ages because they can be entertaining. As a viewer, kids aren’t seen by the live host or anyone else, though they’re listed as an attendee by their username. They can listen to a variety of content, ranging from information about side hustles and small businesses to TV show commentary and political debates.

Some TikTok Live hosts just talk about their life in general and field random questions. Others put the camera on their pets or children. Viewers can scroll through livestreams at random, so they never know what they’ll see or hear when they scroll to the next stream.

Here are some of the activities that viewers can engage in while watching a TikTok Live:

  • Commenting – Viewers can send comments in real-time to chatwith a user during their live. There is no protection from trolls who watch livestreams for the mere pleasure of sending negative, hurtful comments unless a user has dedicated moderators to control the chat.
  • Liking – Viewers can also send a live host likes. These bounce over the screen as small red hearts. The more likes received, the more likely the livestream is to get shown to others. 
  • Questions – Viewers can use a question box to ask the host questions. The host can choose which questions to display on the screen and answer.
  • Gifting – Viewers can purchase gifts and send them to live hosts. TikTok keeps a large percentage of the money earned through gifting, but popular livestreamers can definitely turn a profit by spending a lot of time live and collecting gifts. The more a livestreamer shares about their personal life, the more likely they’ll develop a following with heavy gifters.
  • Subscriptions – Subscriptions are the hot new thing on TikTok. Viewers can pay to subscribe to their favorite content creators, which gives them special members-only privileges. This subscription model is similar to that of OnlyFans, but with less explicit content due to TikTok’s more stringent community guidelines.

The Dangers of TikTok Live for Kids

Is your brain already sounding alarms at all the things that could go wrong for a kid watching or hosting their own TikTok Live? You’re not alone. Parents everywhere are starting to take protective measures against this app.

Even if your child is over the age of 15, they may not have the emotional maturity to handle the criticism and mean comments that often come from trolls viewing livestreams with harmful intent. Kids are also vulnerable to comments, gifting, and liking from potential predators and millions of strangers if they go live on TikTok.

If they don’t block their background effectively, it’s possible someone could figure out their real-time location as well. Some kids may also get too comfortable in front of the camera and willingly answer personal questions about their name, city, state, or even complete address.

What about kids who just watch livestreams? There are dangers on the viewer side of the app as well. Not all livestreams present suitable content for minors. Kids may encounter a wide variety of inappropriate content that leaves them confused or embarrassed. They may also take an interest in topics that they aren’t ready to explore emotionally.

How to Protect Your Kids

If your child has access to the TikTok app, they’re going to see livestreams at least occasionally. The For You Page is a feed that delivers nonstop video content at the flip of a finger. As your child scrolls through their page, they will encounter a wide variety of content creators, including some livestreams that are in progress at the moment.

Their viewing history will train the algorithm to show them certain types of content, but there are always breaks in the algorithm that allow other topics — including inappropriate ones — to get through. The only way to protect your child from seeing those livestreams is to ensure they don’t have TikTok access. Do you want a notification each time your child downloads a new app? Want to block TikTok entirely? Get the Bark parental control app to help keep your kid safe online and in real life.

About Bark

Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.