A new study reveals TikTok to be the most worrying social media platform for parents, with an estimated 5,100 online searches asking if TikTok is safe.
AI Digital family safety app, Canopy.us has collated Google search volume data relating to the safety of various social media platforms. The search volumes for each platform were collected for US and global searches then ordered to reveal the most worrying social media site. The family safety app has also explored what dangers threaten kids using TikTok and the safety precautions parents can take to protect them.
Which social media platform is the cause for the most concern?
Canopy.us analyzed search volume data by inputting the phrase ‘Is safe?’. In doing this, the social media platform that was found to be most worrying was revealed. TikTok was by far the winner, with an estimated 8,900 monthly global searches for ‘Is TikTok safe?’, over half of these coming from the US alone. This data suggests a continuing concern for user safety on the platform.
What are the possible dangers of TikTok to my child?
It can be addictive - The app offers infinite scrolling with never-ending content. TikTok learns from the users’ habits, through its algorithm, and continually creates a personalized experience that will only get more and more enjoyable. A Tech Crunch study revealed kids aged four to 15 spend 80 minutes on TikTok daily; that’s nine hours per week, 486 hours per year, and 20 days per year spent scrolling through videos.
Risk of sexual exploitation - Reports of predators contacting children on TikTok are of great concern to parents. The NSPCC conducted a survey that found 25% of 40,000 school children had live-streamed with someone they did not know, and one out of 20 kids had been asked to take their clothes off. This risk is not unique to TikTok, and parents should be vigilant of all social media platforms that offer the potential to interact with strangers through live streaming.
Exposure to dangerous challenges - There have been countless TikTok challenges that have spread across the platform, some of these taking the lives of children. An infamous trend known as the ‘Benadryl challenge’ resulted in the death of a 15-year-old girl who consumed excessive amounts of the allergy medication. Parents may benefit from keeping up to date with any recent trends to look out for signs of their own children’s attempts.
Misinformation claiming to be medical advice - A recent borax trend sweeping over the platform has been influencing users to treat various ailments by consuming laundry-boosting borax. Of course, most people would use common sense and will forgo consuming a household cleaner. Still, some younger users may be so influenced by older and ‘authoritative’ sounding TikTok creators that it could lead to serious health problems. Consuming borax may cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and kidney failure. Keeping household products out of reach of children is a good place to start for prevention.
How can parents protect their children from TikTok dangers?
TikTok launched Family Safety Mode and Screentime Management in early 2020.
Through the Family Safety Mode, parents can determine the following:
• How long each day a kid can spend on TikTok;
• With whom they can communicate in direct messages (which isn’t allowed at all for accounts registered to those under age 16);
To use Family Safety Mode, a parent must link their own account (so you must create one) to their child’s account. A parent and a child then need to open the app simultaneously and select “digital wellbeing” in the settings. At that point, you will determine which device belongs to the parent and which device belongs to the child. The parent can begin choosing the settings they think are appropriate for the child, and the child cannot alter them.
A spokesperson from Canopy.us, A digital family safety app, commented on the study:
“According to new data findings, TikTok is the most worrying social media app. While many risks are posed to young users of the platform, parents can do several things to protect their kids from dangerous content. As a parent, you know if TikTok will be a safe choice. As you protect and guide your kids at various ages, you know what they can handle and how they will handle themselves, putting in place guardrails that are appropriate for their maturity, such as the family safety mode. As kids return to school following the summer break, parents may begin to let down their guards, allowing children to find loopholes to spend more unsupervised time using the app. Parents should remain vigilant even when their children are back in school, as additional time spent on the app can make them more susceptible to the dangers detailed above.”