Is TikTok Dangerous For Kids?
People are talking about TikTok, now more openly, especially when a few countries have effectively banned the application. Parents are finding that more teens are using the application – swiping, liking, and sharing videos with the world, and that’s exactly what is making them anxious. Why would a country ban TikTok? Is it not good for people especially kids? Should your kids use it?
These are the questions that a parent should have an answer to and that’s exactly what we are going to do here. We are going to help you understand TikTok and the potential risks it brings to the table. Most importantly, we will discuss the various ways parents can keep the application kid-friendly. So, let’s get started!
What is TikTok Afterall?
TikTok is a social media networking application, earlier known as Musical.ly. The application is based out of China and is developed by ByteDance. It allows people of all ages to create an account and then consume or share 15 to 60 seconds of musical videos. The videos can be viewed, commented on, and shared by other users on the platform. TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media applications that has grossed over 850 million monthly active users. Today, the audience on TikTok is majorly young, with approximately 60 percent of them all being between 16 and 24 years of age. However, there’s no age-verification placed to check for the same.
The application is a rage among children. It is the latest and one of the greatest digital hangouts that kids love. It has become an outlet for creativity and discovering new ways to express. The application can be customized for certain interests, preferences, and the feed can be designed for maximum entertainment. The application also has in-built editing tools to improve the quality of the content. All kinds of content are published on TikTok – lip-sync videos, funny sketches, rants, and whatnot. It is a great creative outlet for teenagers and in a strange way, a great confidence builder as well.
What Are The Potential Risks of TikTok?
However, the application comes with a lot of risks, the most dangerous of them we have mentioned in this section. It is, therefore, very important that parents understand how TikTok can subject your kids to its dangers. Understanding the risks will help you make the experience for them as safe as possible.
Predators on the application can be troublesome for your kids. They are looking to connect with kids and message them privately. The conversation would start on the application and take it outside of the app. They can make the kids reveal their personal information and even that of the parents. Also, this risk stands for all other social media applications as well.
2. Mature Content
These applications are known to have loose algorithms that can often present the user with content that they never intended to consume. This is mostly because the apps have users of all age groups. Since the videos are put in the public domain, they are easily accessible to the kids. There are over 1 billion users on the platform and the probability of the kids coming in contact with explicit content is quite high. Even the music used for the videos can have explicit lyrics.
Although the developers keep trying to make the software as robust as possible, there have been instances where the software flaws ended up putting many TikTok accounts under potential malicious attacks. Once the hackers are into your account, they can misuse your account or send other users malicious messages. The messages can be loaded with malware and can be also used to publish a user’s private videos.
4. Excessive Screentime
Regulating the screentime has been a huge challenge for parents trying to ensure their kids are safe online. TikTok, believe it or not, is an attention magnet. Its algorithms are designed in a way that the user has to do very little to consume content. All that a user needs to do is scroll. This can lead to excessive screentime which can further lead to inadequate sleep and other negative outcomes. The notifications a user receives from the application also can cause excessive screentime.
This is a big issue and we have been talking about it a whole lot on this blog. There have been instances on TikTok where people have made compilations of ‘bad-quality’ content and then published on the platform and other social media applications. These kinds of videos go viral and can cause trauma to the users whose content has been compiled or used in the compilations.
6. Reducing Self Esteem
Lastly, and one of the most dangerous risks, is the lowering of self-esteem. Kids are looking for validation on the platform. They are always looking to get more likes, comments, and shares on their videos. And if they don’t get it for their content, they will eventually lose confidence in their creative abilities. This can lead to low self-esteem.
How Can Parents Keep TikTok Kids-Friendly?
Tiktok has come up with new parental control settings, released in February 2020. The parental control settings have a ‘Family Safety Mode’ that allows parents to connect with their child’s TikTok account and ensure proper screen time, put filters on the content consumed, and also limit the messages received from unknown people. The feature can be used to limit or get rid of any unwanted experience on the application.
“As part of our commitment to safety, the well-being of our users is incredibly important to us. We want people to have fun on TikTok, but it’s also important for our community to look after their wellbeing which means having a healthy relationship with online apps and services.”
When nothing works, you will have to strike the right conversation with your kids. It is important, even for them, to learn the risks of using such applications or using the Internet in general. It’s only then can we create a safer online space for kids across the world.
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