If you are over 25 you may have heard of but not be that familiar with TikTok. TikTok is a social media app where you can upload 15 second videos. These vary from funny cat clips through to dance crazes and mini rants. It’s incredibly popular with over 1 billion active users each month!
TikTok has come under scrutiny because of the amount of data it collects about its users. This is thought to be a lot more intrusive than the likes of Facebook. They harvest information about your facial features, location data and browsing history. Then in March 2020 some programmers found that TikTok was stealing information from the copy facility which allows you to share information between apps. (For example, when you copy and paste a password between apps). This is clearly an area of concern.
Being Chinese owned means that TikTok has become a bit of a political pawn, with President Trump threatening to ban it and India already doing so! India sees TikTok as a threat to its national security so has blocked anyone in the country using it. You can learn more about why India blocked TikTok here.
I think the national security concerns overshadow the more direct risk that TikTok poses to kids and teenagers. The app potentially exposes kids to inappropriate videos and language, direct contact with strangers (which could lead to grooming) as well as bullying comments. Recently someone committed suicide in a clip which was widely seen by young children, some of whom were left traumatised.
It also can sensationalise self-harm and other self-destructive behaviours. To this end the Government recommend that TikTok should not be used by the under 16s. However, TikTok is incredibly popular with youngsters and there is lots of appropriate great fun content on there. So I would recommend starting a conversation about online videos and make sure you and your kids know how to report inappropriate videos.
If you need to report a video on TikTok you can do so here: https://support.tiktok.com/en/privacy-safety/report-inappropriate-content-en