10.2.20

TikTok through a mother’s eyes |  Blog

If you know me then you’ll know that I love social media. I love making videos and writing and sharing across Facebook and Instagram mainly. Recently a different social media platform seems to have become extremely popular and not just with young people. I’ve seen fellow bloggers taking the plunge and setting up accounts along with celebrities, brands and even politicians. I was left wondering what all the fuss was about, so I signed up too. What social media platform am I talking about? Why it’s TikTok of course!





Wikipedia explains TikTok as a short-form, video-sharing app that allows users to create and share 15-second videos, on any topic. TikTok also offers users a wide selection of sounds and song snippets, along with the option to add special effects and filters. It is popular for dancers that share dance snippets and also for people to mime along to funny sound bites ect. You can follow people so that their videos show up on your “Following” feed but the app also shows videos that are popular or that it thinks you may like on the main home page called the “For You” feed. Importantly, users don’t really get a say in what comes up in this feed as there is no filter options for certain videos etc. There is an inbox where users can message each other and also a option to like videos and leave comments on videos. Just like Instagram, hashtags are used to search for things (including #fyp which apparently means “For Your Page” and is something people comment on videos if they like the video and want to get it onto more people’s “For You” feed... all very confusing if you ask me?!). When I first joined, I really liked it. Sure it was a little complicated but I think that is just because it’s a new app that I need to learn to navigate but if I went on the app I basically watched people lip syncing to funny things, doing super cool viral dancing and watching quick and easy cooking clips. I even filmed and uploaded a couple of videos myself that I thought were fun and quirky. Although, it soon came to light that that wasn’t all that was on this app. I quickly uncovered the dark side to TikTok and it terrified me. So much so that it motivated me to write this post as I really do believe that children and vulnerable people need to stay away from this app for their own safety.

Now I guess that sounds a little dramatic so let me explain what type of videos started to come up UNPROMPTED and with NO WARNING on my “For You” page.

Weight loss accounts. I’m not talking about the kind of accounts where they share exercises and healthy meal ideas. I’m talking about CHILDREN who are trying to eat less than 400 calories a day and documenting it through their TikTok accounts. 400 calories?!? There was a video I saw the other day by a girl who said she wanted to get to under 5 stone and the account was her journey to get there! And to make it even worse they are then berating themselves because they’ve eaten slightly over or they’ve not lost any weight and their legs are still “massive”! Videos that are hiding behind the weight loss mask but that are really made by people who have a serious issues and need help, not encouragement by fellow weight loss accounts. It scared me for so many reasons. Firstly for the people behind the camera. They shouldn’t have to feel like they do and they should have to feel like it’s normal and okay. I just wish I could help them. Secondly, I worry about the people watching. Could it be triggering? Could a young person watch it and think it’s a good idea to try to eat only 400 calories a day? You never know who’s watching and that makes me so nervous. Finally, could someone see the videos and recognise that the person posting them is vulnerable and take advantage?? I dread to think!

The weight loss clips weren’t the only thing I came across on TikTok that scared me. I had videos coming up on my “For You” page that were clearly made by children slightly older than Pickle. I saw videos of kids who must have been 6/7 years old who were bopping around to music and lip syncing to silly Kardashian sound clips. The content was completely harmless but it came up on my feed without any searching or looking. Me, a 30 year old mother to 2. If it’s coming up on my feed and I’m seeing it them who knows who else is seeing it! I know that younger people lie to get onto social media sites but with instagram I feel like unless you went searching for a childish hashtag or something like that then you very rarely come across children’s accounts, well I never have before. It just really scared me to see children that young on the app AND to know that their videos could be shown to anyone that’s to the “For You” feature without any searching, warning or notice. They just play automatically on that feed.

Now I know that none of this is TikToks fault as they have millions of users and hundreds of millions of videos being uploaded each day so can’t filter everything but it feels like the dark side of TikTok is really dark and needs something done about it. I’ve seen videos of children, horrendous weight loss videos and that’s before I’ve even spoken about the mental health and depression side of this app that I saw. People talking about suicide, self harm and glamourising mental health problems with silly sounds and dances. It’s just awful. It feels unsafe, triggering, potentially dangerous and just damn right scary.

So, there you have it. A mother’s insite to TikTok. Don’t believe me? Then sign up to the app yourself. Spend a bit of time on there and then think about if you want your child on an app like that. I know what I think and I will be keeping myself (I’ve now deleted my profile!) and my boys away from TikTok for as long as I can!!

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