I went on TikTok with my kids and was shocked at what I found


This article was updated on July 23, 2020.


For my daughter’s 10th birthday in the fall, I brought in a chef to teach the girls how to make chicken nuggets and homemade pizza from scratch. It was wonderful, delicious and educational, and exactly what my daughter asked for.

But, you know what, I didn’t need to bother.

Obviously, all the party needed was a smartphone and the TikTok app. During any downtime, all participants wanted to do was watch the 15-second looping video clips, talk about what they had watched, create their own videos, and post them.


Kids don’t like TikTok? More in Fortnite? Read how this mother handled a child who became addicted to gambling here.


From that point on, I was immersed in the world of video sharing, so I had to quickly learn what I could about what is arguably the most popular video sharing app.

I had heard of TikTok, but I didn’t really understand its scope. When I first heard about it some time ago, I thought it was a website for watching dance moves and quickly lost interest. Then I learned that most of my kids’ school was deeply rooted in the app – think Fortnite interest and addiction levels – and that high school students were just as, if not more, fascinated.

On TikTok, you can see a variety of short videos, ranging from lip syncs and dance moves to random music clips edited with hash tags and effects. Some are downright inspiring; others are worthy of cringe. You can follow your friends and other accounts, as well as “heart” videos: there is no “dislike” option. However, comments are allowed and of course could be negative or inappropriate. Different privacy settings exist, which is somewhat reassuring.

While some parents love and support TikTok, others are concerned and limit its use. Trying to decide where I stand in the TikTok debate, here’s what I found and experienced.


Good

There are some very creative videos.

If your kids love to sing or dance, they’ll love some of the lip-syncs and routines.

There are also a lot of cute animal videos, which look pretty harmless.

I also like that there are privacy settings, so if you and your kids decide to post anything you can restrict who sees it (only approved followers will have access). You also still have the option to watch the videos without posting anything yourself, if you want to be more passive.

There seems to be something for everyone. There are articles on makeup, fashion, politics, humor and the beauty of the world. But with so much content, it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.


The bad

In my opinion, TikTok users in their teens and tweens need an adult to supervise what they see and be ready to have frank, real-time conversations about what is appropriate.

This is because some messages are, as I have seen, overtly sexual, discriminatory and selfish.

For example, a cool dance move is one thing. But a dance move from a youngster that demonstrates sexual poses, looks or suggestions is clearly not OK for me, and I think it deserves a discussion with my kids about why it’s not. the case.

I have also witnessed some discriminatory tendencies, like videos making fun of a certain style of dress, ethnic accents or just cruelly imitating others.

Young children using TikTok probably don’t have the know-how to discern when something is mocking or discriminatory or has an underlying sexual stream.

“I don’t want my kids chasing likes.”

This is why I would recommend watching the videos together so that we can have these discussions and allow the kids to verbalize the videos they feel are appropriate.

Once they seem to understand these potential underlying themes, parents can decide if the kids have gained their trust in watching videos on their own.

A video I watched with my daughter should have ticked all the boxes. He filmed a user giving money to a homeless man on a cold winter night.

But my daughter and I felt disgusted by the filming of this supposedly selfless act. This was so obviously planned for TikTok that it canceled the charity element altogether. The video even zoomed in on the recipient’s grateful expression, as if the film’s director made him feel like he was (which he probably felt). You could argue that putting it on TikTok might encourage more acts of giving, but I doubt that result ever materialized. It was a goofy move designed to attract the likes and followers of TikTok rather than true generosity.

I don’t want my kids chasing likes.


Raising a child in the information age worried this mother. Read all about it here.


The ugly one

Bad taste aside, there are also privacy and security issues with TikTok. Unless an account is set to “private”, there is no limitation on the scope of a posted video. The same can, of course, be said for other social media accounts, all of which have much greater reach (and potential for nastiness) than, say, a college student having their photo printed in the local newspaper featuring obviously an achievement.

Social media can travel the world in the eyes and imaginations of countless people. It can be seen with or without real context, so never underestimate its impact.

With everyone on smartphones these days, it can also be difficult to tell if someone is being filmed without their knowledge. Young users can film “cute strangers” they see in passing and post the footage to their accounts, asking friends to help them identify the object of their affection. Innocent intentions? May be.

“[Social media] can be viewed with or without real context, so never underestimate its impact. “

But it is an invasion of their privacy and it can be downright terrifying. Young people also have to navigate the rough waters of their friends who want to film them, and then post those footage to accounts that may not be private.

Once a video is taken on someone else’s phone, it’s hard to control where it goes. These are difficult conversations for children with their friends, so I think it would be beneficial for parents to be aware of what might be going on and to encourage children to invoke their parents’ rules to refuse to. be filmed. It couldn’t hurt for the children to have “I am not allowed to be filmed or posted” as an excuse in their back pocket.


The impact on school and other activities

I think the so-called school cell phone ban is a bit of a joke in some areas. In my children’s primary school, phones are not allowed during school hours, but children can use them during lunch, recess and until school starts. In my experience, the person in the class with the latest iPhone is surrounded by classmates to watch the latest batch of TikTok videos. If you’re not interested in TikTok, so be it. If these groups aren’t actively watching the videos, they talk about it.

What I have seen is that there is very little time or interest in anything unrelated to TikTok. This reality led my 10 year old to declare, in tears, “I wish social media had never been invented.” No more recess to play football, score or capture the flag, or even walk around the playground chatting. (I mean, COVID is also responsible for a lot of this these days.)

It seems like it’s just dance moves, TikTok memes, and iPhone cravings.

I haven’t banned TikTok. I allowed my daughter to watch videos under my supervision on her old iPad. It’s good, but we’re just not in it. And I can see his frustration that this app has sucked everyone’s time and attention. There’s no point in building snow forts, writing silly – or serious – stories, gathering or hanging on to monkey bars. I’m not against the app or people who allow unhindered access to their children. I just mourn the loss of those hobbies that children have too little time to enjoy.

“This reality led my 10-year-old to declare, in tears, ‘I wish social media had never been invented.'”

At its best, TikTok can be creative, funny, and cute (puppies!). At worst, it can be sexual, discriminatory, self-promoting and invasive of privacy. I think it falls somewhere in between, but I would prefer my kids to enjoy the free time of their devices. Find a dance routine? Sure! But don’t feel the need to film it and post it. To do a good deed ? 100 per cent! But why degrade the recipient by forcing him to be filmed?

Hopefully, friendships can once again be based on a shared appreciation for wacky humor, passionate interests, and beneficial hobbies, rather than heading to people with the latest iPhone or the best Wi-Fi. And it’s likely that if your kids are over six, they’ve heard or been exposed to the app, then make sure you’re having the conversation on social media. Ask questions about what they saw or heard. Discuss the motivation for watching or sharing videos. Talk about how social media or the app makes them feel. But don’t assume that just because everyone is on the app it’s necessarily safe or useful.

TikTok – I don’t hate you. I just wish your time was up.

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About Annie Baxley

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