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Worried About Your Kids Using TikTok? Child Psychologist Urges Parents To Keep An Eye On What They're Watching

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The video streaming site TikTok has evolved to cover all parts of life, from recipes to fashion and, of course, those trending challengers.

TikTok has become so popular, the company says it has 1 billion users every month.

The Pew Research Center says half of American adults under 30 use TikTok, but that popularity has attracted millions of children who many believe are too young for its content.

TikTok launched in 2016 and has grown from sharing dance videos to just about anything you can imagine.

The app requires users to be at least 13, but that's a tough rule to enforce, and the company admits it's removed millions of accounts of those suspected to be under that age.

CBS Morning's Nate Burleson talked to his 11-year old daughter, Mia, about TikTok, where she admitted she'd been addicted to it.

Burleson asked how often she used the app.

"Do you want the truth?" Mia asked.

"Yeah," Burleson said.

"Um, about more than eight hours a day, probably," Mia said.

"Eight hours a day?" Burleson said.

"Yeah. When you don't find anything on it, you'll still want to look for things that'll make you happy," Mia said.

Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal programmed dozens of bots registered as 13- to 15-year-olds to see what videos the app's algorithm would show them. The result -- hundreds of videos about drug use, eating disorders and porn site recommendations.

TikTok's Michael Beckerman says the app is about entertainment and bringing joy. He appeared on CBS Mornings.

"Like all entertainment, you want to watch with moderation, and we put tools in place -- 'take a break' videos, screen time management and tools for parents, like family pairing to make sure that they can have conversations and do what's right for their family and their teenagers," he said.

MORE FROM CBS MORNINGS: TikTok Exec Explains Social Media Company's Algorithm And Efforts To Keep Children Safe

CBS2's Cindy Hsu spoke with child psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, who says too much of certain videos can impact a child's mental health.

"It might feed some of their anxiety or it might increase their depression or eating disorders or any of those kinds of things, so we really have to be mindful about what kids are looking at," she said.

She says ask your kids what they're watching and check their smartphone to see how long they're on and what they're doing. If it's too much, use parental features and controls on the device.

Hartstein says remember, you're in control, so follow your instincts.

Social media can build a sense of community, but there needs to be a healthy balance.

Keep in mind -- our kids watch everything we do as adults, including how much time we're on our own devices.


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