While our parents worried the most when we went out, adults these days have to be extremely careful when it comes to the online safety of their children.
Nowadays, new applications and social media platforms seem to appear daily, so they cannot easily control all the dangers their children are subjected to, nor what they become addicted to.
‘Cyber Cop’ Susan McLean warns them to make sure their children do not use the Chinese application TikTok, due to growing concerns about its security.
McLean, former Victorian police cyber safety specialist, stated:
“TikTok is not a safe app and there are many concerns, not the least bullying and grooming by predators.”
Yet, the social media platform has become extremely popular and has been downloaded over 800 million times worldwide. In the U.S. alone, it has been downloaded over 80 million times.
First of all, this application is similar to Snapchat, so users post short videos, but this time, they are shareable available. The videos can last between 3 and 60 seconds and can be taken in many interactive formats.
It is available to anyone older than 13, and since it is video dependent, it is believed to be highly attractive to children.. and unfortunately, pedophiles.
What’s more, it is even more popular than Snapchat in terms of traffic.
Experts believe that it is shameful that the application has little regard for the fact that many of its users are not even close to the age required to sign a legal contract.
Moreover, they ignore their “security blind spots” and rely heavily on the propensity of children, which is a great opportunity for pedophiles.
Even if the kid wants to set the account to private, TikTok admits that “even with a private account, profile information – including profile photo, username, and bio – will be visible to all users.”
An investigation in the UK showed that this application has caused numerous negative experiences online, as it was full of bullying content, kids were being groomed by pedophiles and received sexually explicit messages.
Sexually explicit comments appeared on videos posted by children as young as 9 years old, and after the reports, most of them were removed within 24 hours. Yet, the platform did not suspend most of the offenders.
“TikTok does not have the same safety sessions as some of the more well-known apps and routinely do not remove accounts that have been flagged as potentially a predator. Pedophiles like to watch kids sing and dance so they can take the videos and share them. The data gathering is a huge concern and if the government is worried then it is not a place for kids.”
Ms. McLean revealed:
“Both the US and Australian governments have told serving soldiers that they are not to use it because of security fears. TikTok also received the biggest fine in US history for gathering data on kids and selling it.”
“TikTok is an app for users age 13 and over, and we’ve given the app a 12+ App Store rating so parents can simply block it from their child’s phone using device-based controls. In our Safety Centre, we offer a library of educational resources for teens and their families, including safety educational videos and a safety blog series.
As one of many apps with teenage users, we encourage parents to monitor their teenager’s accounts, review and adjust their privacy settings, help them report any inappropriate behavior, and have an open dialogue with their teenagers about how to be responsible and safe in all online activity.”
In the end, it is up to you to remain aware of the dangers and protect your children. Make sure you talk to them about the dangers of the excessive sharing of their information online and teach them to never tell anyone their phone number, age, address, or the school they attend.