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What to know about controversial app TikTok

Social media is often referred to as both a blessing and a curse. And, when new apps emerge and gain popularity, especially among children, teens and young people, they are scrutinized widely for content and effect. TikTok is a current target.

Parents magazine in February expressed: “Gen Z can’t get enough of TikTok. But if you’re worried about what exactly your kids are getting, you’re not alone.”

At its core, TikTok may seem harmless enough. Androidcentral.com last August defined the app as one that offers users the ability to create short videos, ranging from 15 to 60 seconds, with access to unique filters, stickers and other video editing software options.

TikTok’s safety concerns, addressed by Parents, include:

1. Predators can access the app — and often do — to provide flattery and compliments in an effort to attract users’ attention.
2. The app’s Duet feature, allowing users to “remix another user’s video and lip-synch or dance alongside them in a new clip,” is how someone can interject explicit messages.
3. Sexual or violent content is often posted to public feeds.
4. Some posts are detrimental to individuals suffering from mental health issues; “Some are even publicly encouraged to attempt suicide.“
5. The Reactions feature may cause users to become anxious as they await positive or negative reactions to their content.
7. Trolling — defined as comments, criticisms or reactions to create discord — is common on TikTok.
8. Privacy is a concern, but parents can make sure their children’s accounts are set on the private mode.

Also, many videos include swearing and sexual lyrics, asserted commonsensemedia.com in July. It pointed out that while TikTok requires that users be at least 13 years old, with parental permission required for anyone under 18, there are ways for young children to access the app. Despite the TikTok-approved age, commonsensemedia.com does not recommend the app for anyone under 15, due to privacy issues and mature content.

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