Teenagers want warnings before shocking videos on TikTok and Instagram

More than 80% of teenagers between the ages of 10 and 16 and their parents would like warnings before shocking images on social media such as TikTok and Instagram. It concerns images with violence, sex, animal suffering or ‘scary’ things. This has emerged from research by NICAM, the organization behind Kijkwijzer. Young people are afraid that the algorithm will serve them more and more videos that will make them feel afraid, embarrassed or unsafe. They not only want a warning that videos contain shocking images, but also what kind of images, so that they can decide for themselves whether they would like to watch or not.

Almost one in five teenagers encounters nasty or shocking videos online. This worries parents: more than two-thirds are afraid that their child will see violent images, dangerous or bullying behaviour or sexual acts. Young people themselves find it unpleasant when shocking images are shown unannounced. At the moment, they are sometimes warned with banners on the platform saying things like 'contains sensitive content'. However, children find these too vague, unclear who the sender is, they do not really stand out and/ or the notification is incorrect.

Decide for yourself

The research shows that 64% of teenagers (10-16 years old) watch videos on TikTok (for Instagram this is 39%). As they get older, they spend more time on these platforms. More than two-thirds watch TikTok for more than half an hour every day. They mainly watch vloggers and influencers, music and game videos. Young people over the age of 12 decide for themselves what they do or do not watch, parents hardly watch together with them. Where in most cases there are rules and/ or agreements with young children about how long and what can be watched, for teenagers this is only the case for a small minority.

Difficult to handle

Since 1 July 2022, uploaders of online videos, who are based in the Netherlands, have a Chamber of Commerce registration, have more than 500,000 followers, and publish a minimum of 24 videos per year, must apply Kijkwijzer and warn for potentially harmful images for children. The research shows that the most shocking or violent videos are mainly uploaded by uploaders with smaller numbers of followers or uploaders who are not located in the Netherlands (or Europe). As a result, they do not have to comply to the Dutch law and providing Kijkwijzer information is therefore not mandatory for them. However, children and teenagers do get to see these videos.

In addition, videos on Instagram and TikTok are often posted immediately on the platform. As a result, it is not always possible to assess in advance and assign pictograms (warnings) to them, as is the case with the current application of Kijkwijzer. That is why NICAM is now working together with uploaders to see how we could make this work.

The research was conducted in collaboration with GFK and YoungWorks and consisted of interviews with children, young people, uploaders and analysis of content on social media.

Would you like to learn more?

Download the report (Dutch only)

Recent news

Kijkwijzer icons well-received in Europe

Research among European parents shows that the Kijkwijzer icons also work well in other European countries.

Lees verder

The Kijkwijzer website has been renewed!

We’re celebrating Kijkwijzer’s 20th anniversary with a completely renewed website and corporate identity. Both in terms of design and in terms of content, the website will adapt to today’s media landscape. Apart from the well-known age ratings and content descriptors, the website will offer even more relevant information about films, series, television shows, games and online videos.

Lees verder

All ages

All ages (AL) means that a film, series or television show contains no harmful imagery.

Read more

6 years

The age category 6 years was developed to protect young children from scary and violent imagery. Young children are especially sensitive to this kind of material.

Read more

9 years

Once children are around the age of 9, they are better able to understand whether films or series are real. That's why some productions are rated 9 years and older.

Read more

12 years

When children are between 10 and 12 years old, they start to look differently at the world around them. Still, children around this age are more easily affected by content than teenagers.

Read more

14 years

At this age, children start to use film and television to learn 'social' lessons, like: how to be yourself? And how to interact with others? Watching dangerous behaviour on screen can therefore cause issues at this age. 

Read more

16 years

Although 16-year olds are better able to understand the difference between good and bad, this doesn't mean they can just watch any film or series without trouble.

Read more

18 years

The age rating 18 years and older indicates that a film or television show is for adults only. 

Read more


When children see violence, it can make them aggressive, scared or desensitized to violence. The chance at these kind of effects is influenced by a few things, like: how realistic is the violence? Is there blood or gore? Is violence rewarded? 

Read more


Scary images can frighten children, make them restless or even cause long-term effects like nightmares. The effects vary depending on the viewer and the viewer's age. 

Read more


Children and teens that are in the middle of their (sexual) development, are not always ready to see sexual scenes. They may also be unable to interpret them correctly. Kijkwijzer takes this into consideration. How explicit a sex scene is determines the final age rating.

Read more

Coarse language

Coarse language consists of cussing and cursing, suggestive terms or sexual expletives. Children may imitate the use of offensive language and even incorporate it in their vocabulary.

Read more


Discrimination is any expression that suggests (a group of) people are 'inferior' in some way, for example on the basis of skin colour, religion, sexuality, sex or gender, nationality or ethnicity. If a production contains discrimination and the discriminatory action is not immediately condemned, the icon for discrimination is depicted.

Read more

Smoking, alcohol and drugs

If hard drugs are used in a production - or (a lot of) alcohol, soft drugs or tobacco - the Kijkwijzer icon for smoking, alcohol and drugs is depicted. Teenagers can start to see the use as something that's normal, or even as something worth trying. 

Read more

Dangerous challenges and stunts

Dangerous challenges and stunts regularly occur in content on video sharing platforms.

Dangerous challenges and stunts


The game contains depictions of violence. In games rated PEGI 7 this can only be non-realistic or non-detailed violence. Games rated PEGI 12 can include violence in a fantasy environment or non-realistic violence towards human-like characters, whereas games rated PEGI 16 or 18 have increasingly more realistic-looking violence.​


This descriptor may appear as 'Fear' on games with a PEGI 7 if it contains pictures or sounds that may be frightening or scary to young children, or as 'Horror' on higher-rated games that contain moderate (PEGI 12) or intense and sustained (PEGI 16) horror sequences or disturbing images (not necessarily including violent content).


This content descriptor can accompany a PEGI 12 rating if the game includes sexual posturing or innuendo, a PEGI 16 rating if there is erotic nudity or sexual intercourse without visible genitals or a PEGI 18 rating if there is explicit sexual activity in the game. Depictions of nudity in a non-sexual context do not require a specific age rating, and this descriptor would not be necessary.


The game refers to or depicts the use of illegal drugs, alcohol or tobacco. Games with this content descriptor are always PEGI 16 or PEGI 18.


The game contains depictions of ethnic, religious, nationalistic or other stereotypes likely to encourage hatred. This content is always restricted to a PEGI 18 rating (and likely to infringe national criminal laws).

Bad language

The game contains bad language. This descriptor can be found on games with a PEGI 12 (mild swearing), PEGI 16 (e.g. sexual expletives or blasphemy) or PEGI 18 rating (e.g. sexual expletives or blasphemy).




Video games that show violence of a slightly more graphic nature towards fantasy characters or non-realistic violence towards human-like characters would fall in this age category. Sexual innuendo or sexual posturing can be present, while any bad language in this category must be mild.


This rating is applied once the depiction of violence (or sexual activity) reaches a stage that looks the same as would be expected in real life. The use of bad language in games with a PEGI 16 rating can be more extreme, while the use of tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs can also be present.


The adult classification is applied when the level of violence reaches a stage where it becomes a depiction of gross violence, apparently motiveless killing, or violence towards defenceless characters. The glamorisation of the use of illegal drugs and of the simulation of gambling, and explicit sexual activity should also fall into this age category. 


The game contains elements that encourage or teach gambling. These simulations of gambling refer to games of chance that are normally carried out in casinos or gambling halls. 

In-game purchases

The game offers players the option to purchase digital goods or services with real-world currency. Such purchases include additional content (bonus levels, outfits, surprise items, music), but also upgrades (e.g. to disable ads), subscriptions to updates, virtual coins and other forms of in-game currency.

If this icon is accompanied by the notice Paid Random Items, the in-game purchases may consist of offers where the player doesn't know precisely what they are buying prior to purchase (i.e. loot boxes or card packs). 

Select a language