Tik Tok is a short form video sharing app that is taking over screens around the globe, and its popularity is growing. It’s new, innovative and clever. Kids and young adults flock to this app and share crazy, funny, weird, surprising and odd videos with special effects, crazy voices and more.
One writer described it this way: “TikTok hosts everything from the simple, to the bizarre, to the extremely fucking weird. “ That last part makes the hair on many parent’s necks stand up. It’s a wild west of an app, with creators doing virtually anything to get a laugh or get noticed and viewers straining to be entertained.
It’s a massive community and it’s still evolving. That makes it an unpredictable beast.
Is there a Concern with Tik Tok?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: Absolutely
Where kids go, so do predators. It’s an uncomfortable truth, but one we need to accept and act upon.
The app has 500+ million users and the majority of users are kids. Internet security experts are very concerned with how many kids are using Tik Tok and how these kids are interacting with the app and other Tik Tok members. A real concern of these experts is that kids are uploading content without supervision and connecting with unknown individuals. An additional red flag is that in order to sign up, users must give up personal data to sign up including location, contacts and messages.
Tik Tok is rated for people 13 years of age and above, and by default, all accounts are public. However, this age limit is altogether too young according to some Internet security experts. Sexually suggestive videos of early teen girls dancing is enough to break your cringe meter. (And their ad campaign seems to celebrate this very aspect of the app…)
Further, the app does not screen users ages, even though it is quite obvious that most videos are of children, many below 13 years of age. Because Tik Tok is a video-sharing app, users are basically showing the world who they are and also giving away data about themselves, making them vulnerable to predators and other nefarious individuals. Because all users can like and comment on videos, there is a risk that strangers with ill intent can reach out to users and make connections to them.
What can you do?
Tik Tok has some safety features, however, they fall short. The most reliable option, if you are so concerned, is to delete the app. However, even this easy solution is complicated by the need for a code from the app to delete.
If the coolness of this fun app is worth keeping it, you can use the features of the app to reduce usage and limit contact. There is a setting that will alert a user if they have been on the app for 2 hours. There is also a ‘restricted mode’ that parents can set to filter out inappropriate content. (How well this functions, is a point of further discussion)
As with anything in the digital world, a cool and fun app like Tik Tok carries with it an obligation by parents to monitor usage. Tik Tok can be a mindless fun place for young adults to have a ton of fun, or it can be a possible threat if things go wrong. Parents who are in the know are ahead of the game. So look out for Tik Tok and approach your child’s interaction with it by having a plan and a solid understanding of what’s going on.
Read Part 1 of this article.