TikTok is a popular place for tweens and teens these days, but it definitely comes with some safety concerns. Here are 3 problems that parents should know about, plus a few benefits, too.
Relationships with people kids don’t know. TikTok makes forming relationships with strangers super easy, with random people leaving comments, and even sending messages (depending on settings). Kids are easily swayed by positive feedback (aka super flattering comments on their videos), so it’s important for them to understand that just because someone says something nice doesn’t make them a friend or confidante.
Feelings associated with likes and comments. Kids get a dopamine hit every time someone likes their video or leaves a comment. (Hey, we get that too on our own social media posts). It’s an easily-addictive feeling that can negatively affect their mental health if they become overly focused on knowing how many likes and comments their post got.
Bad things being normalized. Due to the TikTok algorithm, kids can be repeatedly exposed to things they’ve either watched or hovered over, which then normalizes that action – from body image to racism and sex acts.
Okay, but what about the good things? There are also a few things (maybe more) that TikTok does quite well, which is provide kids with an outlet for expression, encourage their creativity, and allow them to connect with other like-minded kids who they might not have in their school or community.
Before you decide whether to allow (or ban) TikTok, you’ll want to be sure your kids have an understanding of the downsides, and more importantly, they know that if they encounter something weird, inappropriate, or scary, they can come talk to you without judgment.