Tik Tok: A threat to teens or a fun outlet to express yourself?


Developed and released in September of 2016, the social media platform, “TikTok” is truly a rising star in the social media world, gaining over 500 million active users in just three years. According to an Oberlo Statistics study, TikTok has been downloaded over 1.5 billion times.
With endless sounds and songs to choose from, the TikTok world is truly an oyster to users. Age groups of users span from elementary school children to the elderly, and the amount of freedom is seemingly limitless. However, along with all the fame that this app has received, some issues have arisen as well. Pros and cons must be considered and observed before downloading the app.
First, TikTok has an endless stream of entertaining content for all ages. Duets, comedy skits, and makeup tutorials are all types of videos you can find on the app. Many teens and children “follow” their favorite artists as it’s fun to follow them and see what they post. Although, some types of comedy and music can be explicit and not age-appropriate for some users.
TikTok appeals to many young children, because of how easy it is to make and watch these videos. It’s also a great platform to efficiently share content and communicate with friends and other people on the app. However, the simplicity that this app provides in regards to connecting its users can be harmful, especially to children and teens.
A term called “catfishing” has been used to describe how adults lure teens into sending inappropriate images through direct messaging while posing to be someone they’re not. This can be very dangerous to young children who aren’t old enough to know any better or stand up for themselves.
The legal age to sign up on TikTok is 13, however there is nothing stopping kids from changing their birth year. The effort from TikTok to prevent catfishing is clear, but not foolproof. This is often an issue with many social media apps that is hard to monitor from their end.
TikTok also allows users to explore various types of videos that show dances, tutorials, and the latest “challenges.” Many teens are swept in by these challenges, and like to participate with their friends and families. Many have lots of fun with these challenges, and like to “compete” with others on them.
Sure, some TikTok challenges could be entertaining and fun, but some have sent teens to the ER with life threatening injuries. The “skull breaker” and “eye bleach” challenges are among some of the most dangerous tasks that some teenagers choose to engage in.
In Cherry Hill, New Jersey, two kids were criminally charged in court for dropping a 13 year old on his head during the “skull breaker” challenge, causing him a severe concussion and being rushed to the hospital. This challenge includes two people getting a third person to jump into the air, then continuing to kick their feet out from under them. Many other cases have been reported similar to this across the country. Parents were furious about the incident and charged the two kids with assault.
A second challenge, deemed the “eye bleach” challenge, calls for jelly, hand sanitizer, bleach, and shaving cream to all be mixed into one bag. The bag is to be held against the eye for an entire minute. This challenge risks the idea of the bag popping, and all of the harmful substances directly funneling into the eye. Thankfully, there have been no reported cases of this challenge sending anyone to the hospital, but the idea that people have done it is truly horrifying.
TikTok most definitely has its fair share of danger within the app, however it can also be fun and entertaining, if used in the correct manner.
Users under the age of 13 should be supervised by an adult while using the app, and refrain all together in changing their birth year in order to sign up for the app. Users over the age of 13 should use the app with discretion and know what is safe and what isn’t. Challenges that are potentially harmful should not be allowed on the app because of its exposure to young children who may not see the danger in such acts.
Overall, TikTok is a fun app for kids and teens and its presence doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. As long as it’s used with precaution and the occasional overview by a parental figure, all users should be safe to use the app for their entertainment!