Michael Vidal ’22
Tik Tok is one of the most popular social media sites for today’s youth. However, is it safe and could it have potential negative effects on this new generation? While there are parental controls for younger children, they are not yet available in the U.S. and nonetheless, there are still several safety concerns with Tik Tok, which in turn have negative effects on children.
One of the most common repercussions of having social media as a child is running into videos that are not appropriate. While you are able to set your account to private, you may encounter videos with sexual, gory, dangerous or even worse implications. This inflammatory content is nothing new for social media but still sets a dangerous precedent for new children on the internet.
Another example is that like most other social media sites, you can message people that you follow. If children follow someone that they do not know, they may be a victim of bullying or potentially be targeted by a child predator. These predators may attempt to initially build a good reputation with children by commenting positive messages on videos the former may have produced. This will increase the children’s self-esteem but may also make them more prone to converse with these people they do not know. As a result, parents should be aware of who their children follow on tik tok so they protect them from harm.
Another example is kids being cyber bullied by people they do know. This can relate to the previous point regarding messaging or about the actual video content. If a child produces a video that is “cringey” or not well-received, people they know may have different usernames and criticize the former for being “weird.” This connects to a broader view of anxiety and mental health. Children may become anxious when others disapprove of something they likely worked hard on or had fun doing. They may also attempt to create better content to become more popular on the app and may make them insecure about their self image. If they cannot achieve that success they aspire to have, it could cause potential mental health conflicts. These mental health conflicts may also be caused by uncomfortable or overly personal questions from strangers. As a result, it proves parents’ fears of their children having social media true.
However, TikTok has taken steps to improve child safety. Children of certain ages will not receive notifications after certain time periods at night, which can prevent addictions. You also must be at least sixteen to directly message others on TikTok. These steps can help parents know that their children will be safe on Tik Tok and other social media platforms as well.