TikTok is fascinating, but it is also scary. Parents find themselves helpless in the face of this social network that promises to unleash children’s creativity but also presents several dangers.
To answer parents’ questions and provide concrete solutions, we have organized a podcast debate with 3 specialists:
- Justine Atlan: President of the e-Enfance association
- Corentin Colin: TikToker with 185000 subscribers
- Christophe Coquis: Editor-in-Chief of the magazine Geek Junior
This podcast is divided into 5 parts allowing all parents to understand the issues facing their children on TikTok fully
- Presentation and history of TikTok
- How to explain the TikTok phenomenon among teenagers?
- Why should parents be interested in TikTok?
- What are the fears or dangers to be taken into account about TikTok?
- Practical advice for parents
- 800 million users
- 52 minutes: average daily usage time
- 90%: the share of users who log on every day
- 59% of users are under 13 years old
Presentation and history of TikTok
TikTok is a social network that exists since 2016. It is a mobile video-sharing application that has surpassed 800 million users. It’s a hit with teenagers who are playing short videos, often with music, in which they imitate the attitudes of a star, with their favorite music in the background.
TikTok was developed by a Chinese business called ByteDance. It was initially developed for the Chinese market in 2016 and has since spread all over the world.
TikTok came under geopolitical pressure in 2020 when Donald Trump wanted to ban the application. The application is highly criticized, especially for the management of private data. It has been banned in India and restricted in Italy following a teenager’s death during an online challenge. TikTok, for its part, has regularly defended its links with the Chinese government and has always denied sharing this data with the Chinese authorities.
How to explain the TikTok phenomenon among teenagers?
TikTok, by its novelty and the originality of its content, has inevitably attracted teenagers looking for a place of their own.
[Teenagers] need to be in a place where they feel they’re out of the sight of their parents and adults in general; before, it was the basement for the rock band, after it was Facebook, Snapchat now TikTok.
Justine Atlan, e-Enfance
But beyond this “novelty” effect, there is also the short format (10-second videos) and the opportunity given to everyone to become famous thanks to the published content. TikTok’s algorithm plays a significant role here since it highlights specific content to an extensive community.
Why should parents be interested in TikTok?
In this debate, the guests argued that parents should not be passive observers of their children’s digital usage. TikTok must be placed within a set of uses that contribute to making today’s teenagers alert and aware of the world’s evolutions.
By taking an interest in what their children are doing, parents will inevitably get closer to them by showing interest in their digital practices. TikTok is more than a dance platform for teenagers. Specific content is developed for adults on the one hand, and less superficial content is also massively created, making this social network a vector of education.
You can’t accompany a child or teenager if you don’t understand the world they live in.
In the podcast, Corentin Colin also insists on the development of creativity. TikTok is indeed a real video editing platform that allows every user to try their hand at video creation. In this digital age, this kind of skill is probably not to be underestimated.
Les dangers de TikTok
TikTok is, despite everything, mostly known for certain abuses that are indirectly allowed by the application: cyber-bullying, accidents, and suicides in particular.
These dangers are reinforced by the high proportion of children under the age of 13 who use TikTok (with their parents’ collaboration, as Justine Atlan reminds us). By not respecting the conditions of use of the network (which prohibits use by children under the age of 13), we indirectly create conditions that allow sexual predation. As Justine Atlan reminds us:
[When] you create a new application that will massively attract the youngest, you’re going to attract what we call sexual predators.
The hyper-sexualization of specific contents reinforces these dangers and the challenges regularly launched, which sometimes lead to human dramas.
In addition to these harmful behaviors, the very functioning of the application raises questions since the management of personal data is regularly in the hot seat. The functioning of TikTok’s recommendation algorithm would lead to user addiction.
Practical advice for parents
Practical advice on privacy settings and data sharing is given in the podcast. Indeed, the TikTok application has setting options that limit certain features according to the user’s age. The private chat, for example, is only available from 16 years old and therefore requires special attention from parents (mainly to avoid being in contact with sexual predators).
It is also essential to keep certain content private or to strictly limit its distribution. As Corentin Colin reminds us, all content remains forever on the Internet and can turn against its creator many years later. It is, therefore, necessary to be very vigilant concerning the image of the child and not give in to the temptation to broadcast everything publicly.