What is TikTok:
TikTok is a mobile application where users can make short videos up to sixty seconds. It is an app like “Dubsmash”, which took over the Internet a few years ago, where users lip-sync a song or dialogue playing in the background, with unique facial expressions, and adding special effects, filters and stickers. In return, users get hearts, comments and followers on their account.
TikTok is another one of those applications which are famous amongst the young crowd for a couple of months and a source of new trends that float all over social media. Such apps and trends attract teenagers and adolescents from ages 12-16. However, the question arises if TikTok is appropriate and safe for children to use? It is important to discuss this topic because in this era of social media, children can have access to anything, which can be inappropriate for their age or violate their safety.
Inappropriate content on TikTok:
At first, users used TikTok for the sole purpose of creating funny, hilarious and enjoyable short videos for the viewers. But as it gained fame and popularity, people started misusing it. Slowly and gradually, the app was used to make vulgar content in terms of language and body exposure. Moreover, people have also started subjecting to animal abuse where the users are abusing their pets for comedy. For the sake of likes and followers, people stick to slang language, body exposure and animal abuse. This has gone so far in India that some provincial governments are taking a stand and making policies to ensure the effective and appropriate use of Tik Tok.
Is TikTok Safe For Children:
TikTok is for children above the age of thirteen but when one sees the type of content produced and created on TikTok, it is obvious that the app is made and only appropriate for users above eighteen. However, people are so crazy and obsessed with the app that many videos made on TikTok are easily shared and uploaded on other social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube.
How is TikTok dangerous for children?
One can easily conclude that this app is not safe for children to use as users are misusing the app and doing anything for the sake of followers. It is important that until actions are not taken to make appropriate content on TikTok, children stay away from the app and the content, which circulates over the social media.
Apart from the content on the app, some accounts are commenting on children’s videos that are extremely sexually offensive and abusive. Similarly, children as young as nine-year-old girls are receiving messages from such accounts.
Children and their parents are extremely worried after these incidents. They are suffering from mental stress and anxiety, as they never imagined of such encounters when their only purpose was to create the app effectively, for fun.
Advantages of using TikTok:
As long as TikTok is used effectively and efficiently, it will prove to be beneficial and enjoyable. The first advantage is that it is a source of fun. People enjoy making funny videos where they sing and dance on their favorite songs and lip-sync their favorite dialogues. It allows the user to see themselves saying legendary, memorable and famous dialogues of famous personalities and movies.
It is also a source of entertainment. Many users post no video on their account but have only downloaded the app to watch other users’ videos. Many celebrities have also started using TikTok, which attracts even more people to download the app so that they can follow them.
TikTok enables the users to make videos and content by collaborating with your friends and loved ones. A video can collaborate with other accounts when each user has half a screen to themselves and both coming together to make one short video. This way, creating videos of themselves and give a chance to use the app with other people as well would not bore the user.
One may not notice but this app can influence and enhance the creativity of people. Creating videos using special effects and filters can generate ideas to make films in the future that way. Moreover, people who act and dance pretty well on TikTok maybe paving a path for themselves in the film industry in the future. This may be very difficult and impractical but still, it may be true considering how people get famous by using this app.
Disadvantages of using TikTok:
As discussed before, the app is proving to be hazardous for children. The app is full of content promoting nudity, vulgar language and animal abuse which is not appropriate for children under a certain age to see. This is mainly because the users are not using the app for the purpose it was created for, which was fun and entertainment. The app has proved to be not suitable for children, who were one of the target audiences of the app.
Another reason why this app is hazardous for children is that children are finding vulgar comments and messages on their accounts from other people. How can this app prove to be good for children when they are receiving such messages? Parents are extremely worried because of which they have restricted the use of TikTok by their children.
Another disadvantage is that the app is being used for absolutely no purpose at all. It was meant to be a good way of spending your free time and having fun but people spend their whole day making videos, wherever they go. There are many countries where people are randomly found singing and dancing in public places such as grocery stores, malls, and roads, which is irritating and annoying. People are so obsessed that they especially put on makeup and dress to make videos on TikTok, or to follow a random trend going on in the app. The app may be addictive but youngsters do not realize that the app is restricting them to do something productive and also disturbing their busy school, college, or work schedule.
How to ensure the safe use of TikTok for children:
As a parent, there is always a need to ensure the safe use of technology for your children. Here are some tips for parents to ensure the safe use of TikTok for your children.
First of all, one must switch the account of your child from “public” to “private”. This way, only the people you approve would follow your account so strangers and random followers would not have access to your account. Parents can also control people who can comment on your video.
However, if you do have a public account, you can turn off “allow others to find me”. This way you can control who can like, commenting, seeing, and performing duets with you.
Another way of ensuring safety on TikTok is to discuss with your child, the measures of online safety and the most effective use of the app, and phone in general. The parents must warn them of any stranger trying to message them or commenting on something unusual on their videos.
The parents should also restrict the screen time of their children. This way, they will not misuse or overuse the app or phone in general and help to keep them away from online dangers. When the screen time will be restricted, it will ensure that they are not obsessed with the app and not let the usage of the app disturb their daily routines and schedules. Moreover, the children will also have limited access to the content of TikTok, which is shared and posted on other social media.
TikTok’s creators have realized that now, the users are exploiting and misusing the app which was used for the sole purpose of entertainment and that children are not safe anymore using the app. Therefore, amendments are taking place to ensure the positive and safe use of the app. The app has gathered great criticism and bad reputation due to the senseless and purposeless trends it is promoting. Necessary actions need to be taken so that the use of the app is again fun and enjoyable and without any hindrance to people’s safety, daily routine, or self-respect.