The world renowned video streaming app TikTok has reached 800 million active users worldwide with over 2 billion downloads. Why should parents be conscious of these numbers? TikTok offers users who download the app the ability to search the app without actually setting up an account. This is concerning as the app does not require its audience to state their age.
The app, created for users 13 years of age or older, allows users to scroll the "For You" page, which is similar to the "Discover" page on Snapchat or Instagram. This is where the app features videos they think you'll like, something you as a user or parent cannot disable.
While the app says it's rated for children 13 years old or older, the "For You" page is filled with profanity and explicit sexual content. As a result, TikTok has become a gateway to pornography. Why does the app promote sexually explicit content to minors? Because it is addictive. Sadly, TikTok has decided advertisement dollars and shareholder value are worth more than the safety of children. Furthermore, the endless stream of videos teaches children that girls exist for the viewing pleasure of others. This has led to a wave of self-harm among young women trapped in a game of comparison.
If your child already has TikTok, they have likely been exposed to a great deal of harmful content. A team mentality is needed to navigate a conversation with your child as you look out for their best interests. Plan a time to get out of the house, go out for ice cream, or go on a walk and talk with your child about what they have seen on the app and what deleting the app would mean for them.
Here are a few conversations starters:
How does TikTok make you feel?
How do you feel about the videos you see?
Does spending time on the app cause you to respect other people created in God's image and likeness?
Rather than scrolling an app alone watching everyone else living their lives, what else could you be doing with your time?
Listen to your child with compassion. If you and your child come to the conclusion that deleting the app is the best option (which it undoubtedly is) plan intentional activities to fill that time or help them acquire a new hobby. Encourage them to live an intentional, meaningful life on their terms to the glory of God.