TikTok teaching kids to steal, use drugs

Katya Tarabrina, Blue M Editor-and-Chief

Many social media platforms have content that is not considered appropriate for children. It is nearly impossible to guard children from the dangers of the internet, and TikTok is one of the least moderated ones. 

TikTok, previously known as Musical.ly, has had a rise in users the past few years. The platform itself consists of all kinds of videos which are filmed by users of various ages. Many videos are made catering specifically to younger age groups such as dancing videos, DIYs and other lighthearted content. The way the platform works is once you like a specific video and you interact with it in the comments, the algorithm will try to put similar videos on a page that the platform thinks you will enjoy, called the For You Page.

But with the TikTok algorithm, it is very easy to get off the fun and positive side of TikTok.

As an obsessed user of TikTok, a wide variety of videos show up, but about five out of 10 videos show illegal activity. These videos are undesidered and it is a mystery how they are showing up on my page. 

The most notable videos include tutorials of how to shoplift products from big brands, how to sell your feet to old men online, videos showing drug use, but specifically marijuana and alcohol use. 

Those activities are shown by the person making the videos, usually made in a way that suggests society needs to normalize it. These videos are portraying illegal activity and making it seem like something that is very normal and people shouldn’t be ashamed about. Why is it being normalized and encouraged? The most common argument I’ve seen regarding shoplifting being okay is that big million-dollar corporations won’t suffer from this loss, and they underpay their workers so it makes it okay to, in the commenter’s words, ‘borrow’ from them. 

Without proper research, children will see these videos and believe it to be the truth. TikTok is convincing kids to partake in illegal activity with the promise of short-lived happiness and freevitems. 

I am a very open-minded person, and I don’t judge people easily. But seeing these videos makes me feel very concerned for the generations of kids who are growing up watching TikTok. 

Reading the comments on these videos is the worst though. They will have thousands of likes and comments from people saying they are following these steps or want to follow them.

It is surprising that people don’t talk about this part of the platform, well, ever. It is a huge problem, there should not be any social media that shows how to commit crimes to not only kids but any age group. It’s not something that should be available to people.

It’s very uncertain how they can fix this issue though, because most of these videos are slipping through the moderation, which is clearly not doing enough to begin with. But the one thing that is certain is that if I ever have children and TikTok is still around, I will be doing everything in my power to stop them from using it.