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A Guide to TikTok📱

Written by Jos on 23rd January, 2020

What is TikTok?

TikTok is the short-form video social media app taking the world by storm. Their mission is ‘to inspire creativity and bring joy’. 

First launched in China in 2016, the app has now grown to have an estimated 800 million active users. With the bulk of those users being teenagers. In 2019 it was the fourth most downloaded non-game app. Topping Instagram, Snapchat and Spotify. 

All credits to @davidkasprak on TikTok.

Are there any criticisms of TikTok?

Failing to remove online predators
As the app is popular with so many teenagers, it has become a magnet for sexual predators.

A BBC investigation found hundreds of explicit messages sent to teenagers and children. While the majority of messages got removed within 24 hours of being reported, not all the accounts got blocked. Allowing predators to keep their accounts active and strike again.

Censorship of political content 
TikTok has faced criticism about what content it allows and what it blocks. In November, the app blocked a US teenager from TikTok after she posted a video criticising China's treatment of the Uighur Muslims.

Digital gifts 
Users can send digital gifts costing between 99p to £99.99. A Canadian mother discovered her 11-year-old daughter had spent $400 on gifting TikTokers. 

Young people can get pressured by influencers to send them digital gifts in exchange for things like their phone number.

In an attempt to protect children from this, new age restrictions have been brought in. Now the minimum age to give or receive gifts will be 18.

How is TikTok different from other social media apps?

On TikTok most videos are goofy, bizarre and sometimes embarrassing. A contrast to other popular social media apps - which tend to focus on highlights or the best versions of ourselves. The app has a heavy focus on authenticity and entertainment. 

Tips for using TikTok safely

  • Limit the amount of time spent on the app. As one video auto-plays after another, it’s easy to lose track of time.
  • Turn on ‘restricted mode’, to filter out inappropriate content and alert users who have been on the app for more than 2 hours.
  • Set the account to private.
  • Report inappropriate or offensive content. Click here to find out how to report.
  • Block offensive or inappropriate users.

Do you want to promote online safety in your school?

Click here to sign-up to our free six-week Online Safety Plan. 

Available to the first 100 schools that sign-up before the 14th February.

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