Is Tik Tok appropriate for kids?

Last night, I rounded off the year with what will be my final zoom quiz call of 2020. Something both my liver will be grateful for and my brain, as I can no longer find quiz questions I haven’t used before. Anyway, in my hunt for new questions, I came to find that Tik Tok has 800 million worldwide users (WTF?!). Despite that gargantuan figure, for those that aren’t aware, a very basic description of Tik Tok is a video creation and sharing social media app popular amongst “young people”, usually filled with dances, cringe-worthy ‘comedy’ or tips, and food hack videos.

Social Media Tsunami

Now, social media isn’t a force to be reckoned with. It’s a bit like a tidal wave. You can pretend you aren’t going to register an account with Instagram, Facebook, or whatever else is out there, but eventually, you’ll get caught up in it. And, before you know it, you’re mindlessly scrolling through videos of people making weird cakes or blowing up bowling balls with a hydraulic crushing machine (no, just me?). If you genuinely avoid social media at all costs, good for you; I admire you. I personally am an on-again, off-again Instagram addict, and an occasional Facebook user. But Tik Tok isn’t one I’ve quite got my head around. That doesn’t mean I can avoid it. You see, social media is a bit of an incestuous pit of entertainment, people will share Tik Tok videos on Instagram, and Instagram reels will somehow be shared on Facebook; it becomes what I like to call a social media clusterfuck.

Is it appropriate?

Anyway, through this social media clusterfuck I have been subject to Tik Tok videos. Some are good, funny, useful. Some are painfully awkward and cringeworthy to watch. The ones that stood out the most though are the dance videos, highlighted to me by an ‘influencer’ on Instagram who sounded an alarm and made a good point that the majority of Tik Toks users are teenagers and children. And, a lot of these videos involve provocative dancing that is then copied and shared by young people globally. As I write this I’m telling myself I’m becoming old and miserable and it’s just fun, but as I now have a 3-year-old daughter I view some things in a very different way.

Setting boundaries

It might be hard to believe, but I have a brain, and I know that websites and apps have preferences. So, like you wouldn’t let your child roam the internet without any boundaries, most parents won’t let their children use an app without vetting it first. However, it’s hard to lock down everything. A prime example being that I don’t even have the Tik Tok app downloaded, yet I have seen several hundred Tik Tok videos on the social media apps I do use (see? it’s a clusterfuck). Children and teenagers are therefore being subjected to certain inappropriate content on these apps often by accident or scrolling in the wrong place.

It’s worth noting the fact that the stars of these platforms make triple your average CEO’s salary in a month, and these positions as ‘influencers’ do just that, they influence. It’s hard to convince the young and easily influenced that copying the activity of twerking to songs or dancing to Cardi B’s WAP (Wet Ass P*ssy) isn’t the right thing to do i.e racking up millions of followers and pounds at the same time. The fact is, it’s very few that see this level of success, but to a young kid it’s the ultimate goal and feels attainable.

It’s not all bad

I don’t like to sound like a complete miserable old man and a fun sponge. There are many benefits to apps like these, not to mention the food hacks and the several McDonald’s concoctions we’ve tried on a hangover thanks to Tik Tok. There’s also no denying that the site is a creative outlet, which can’t be knocked during what has been such a shit year. But, with a 3 year old who will be older in the blink of an eye, asking for a phone (that’s a topic for another day), and using these apps I do worry about the level of protection that is available.

Tik Toks the rant victim for today, but I share a similar view for the other social media apps out there. Fortunately for now, our only concern is how much we have to watch Peppa Pig on Netflix. I can deal with that.

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