TikTok: A Hazardous Rabbit Hole
TikTok is a fast-growing social media platform that has been adopted by the vast majority of students. TikTok has been downloaded over 2 billion times and was ranked as the top most downloaded app in the Apple iOS App Store in 2019. 90% of all TikTok users access the app daily according to the Oberlo research group.
Parents need to be aware of this social media network and how to guide their children to responsibly use it.
Let’s take a look at TikTok!
How Does TikTok Work
TikTok is a social media app that strives to connect people across the globe. Students can search or just browse in the “For You” section of the app. Once a video is watched, then another one is suggested and another until the student stops the cycle. TikTok users have dubbed this the “TikTok Rabbit Hole” because once you start watching a video sometimes an hour can pass before they realize it. While students view videos, the algorithms in the background of the app track their usage to deliver suggestions of what they would like to see more of. The next time that your student goes to the app’s “For You” section it will suggest videos like the ones they watched in the past.
Hazards Parents and Students Should be Aware Of
While social media has many benefits such as connecting friends together, parents must be aware of the hazards that their children will face. If parents are not educated on these hazards then they will let the creators of these apps expose their children to whatever content they deem appropriate. Here are a few of the hazards that parents should be aware of on TikTok:
The majority of videos uploaded are set to music and many of the songs are riddled with explicit language.
- Explicit Content
There has been an explosion of adult content on TikTok according to the Wall Street Journal. The study conducted by the Wall Street Journal revealed that their account (registered as a 13-year-old) was suggested over 100 videos promoting paid pornography in their “For You” section after 1 questionable search.
Also in the Wall Street Journal’s research, they found 569 videos about drug use that talked about meth, cocaine, and recreational drugs bombarded their 13-year-old test account.
How-to Guide Your Child as they use TikTok
Parents are responsible to protect their children and teach them how to navigate the internet. Here are a few methods to help parents guide their children into being responsible internet users:
- Device Checks
The most common way to guide your student as they use their devices is to implement a regular device check where a parent searches the device for inappropriate or harmful content. In TikTok, be sure to check the “For You” section as this is an average of the types of videos that your student is watching as well as the direct messaging section.
- Family Pairing
This new feature allows parents to link their TikTok account to their child’s account and control aspects of their child’s app. Family Sharing allows parents to disable direct messaging, turn on content filters to help remove adult content (this limits but will not entirely remove adult content), limit the people who can access your child’s videos, and set time limits for app usage.
- Shared Account
Using the same login credentials for your child’s TikTok account will allow you to see exactly in real-time all of your student’s TikTok activity. This method would provide the greatest accountability and the least privacy. This method is recommended for young users and users who need extra guidance.
Parents are responsible to guide their children on the internet and to teach how to be responsible users. If parents do not take this responsibility, other unknown content creators will gladly expose your children to whatever is most addicting.