Yes, it is a sensationalised heading but also completely true. The Australian Defence Force has just joined the ranks of world governments banning TikTok from all of their devices, citing security concerns.
The scary side of TikTok
- Account and profile information such as name age, phone number, profile image, password, email and username.
- Any content uploaded to the app including photos, comments, videos audio recordings, etc.
- Direct messages.
- Purchase information including credit card details, names and information from third-party payment apps, billing and shipping information.
- Cookies and device metadata including your location, IP address, search history and online habits.
There are other things that TikTok is not so open about. For example, TikTok told an Australian Senate Select Committee that the data it collects from Australians is stored on servers in the USA and Singapore. However, Robert Potter from Australian cybersecurity firm Internet 2.0 presented a report on TikTok on ABC News and said, “Under closer examination, we saw it connecting to servers around the world, including in China.” Mr Potter also said that TikTok collects a lot more data than a social media app requires. For example, while the app is open TikTok requires almost complete access to the contents of a phone which means it has access to your calendar, contact lists as well as photos.
The fun side of TikTok
I’m not a follower of social media myself but I understand why short videos can be fun, entertaining and even informative. TikTok has more than 1 billion active users and that number is predicted to rise to 2.6 billion in 2025 – that’s 106 times the population of Australia!
TikTok is particularly popular among school-aged children, giving them an online outlet to express their creativity and engaging them in content that is relevant to them. The algorithm is designed to continually show them content that they are interested in, keeping them entertained.
I can certainly see the fun side of TikTok however, there is a dark side.
The dark side of TikTok
Besides the security issues causing governments to ban TikTok, it can be even darker for our children. TikTok has guidelines that prohibit explicit and harmful content but it is not always enforced. Children can easily come across inappropriate videos harmful to their mental and emotional health.
Are you willing to be the ‘no fun’ parent and uninstall TikTok from your children’s devices or is there an alternative?
A recent newcomer to the short video social app scene is YouTube Shorts. Is it the answer to luring your children away from TikTok? Here are the pros and cons.
Safer for Children: YouTube has a strict content policy that prohibits explicit and harmful content, and the same policy applies to YouTube Shorts. This means that children are less likely to come across inappropriate content on the platform.
Educational: Like TikTok, YouTube Shorts can be educational for school-aged children, with tutorials, trivia, and informative videos.
Less Creative: Unlike TikTok, YouTube Shorts does not offer as many creative options, such as filters, effects, and music. This can limit the creative potential of children using the platform.
Limited Audience: YouTube Shorts is still a relatively new feature, and it does not have as many users as TikTok. This means that children may not get the same engagement and feedback on their content as they would on TikTok.
Ads: YouTube Shorts has ads that can be disruptive and distracting for children. While YouTube does have a YouTube Kids app that is ad-free, YouTube Shorts is not yet available on that platform.
Over to you, the parents
As a parent, it is essential to monitor your child’s social media usage and be aware of the pros and cons of different platforms. I’m not advocating for YouTube Shorts in particular, but just mentioning it as an alternative to TikTok for our children.
Easter school holidays
Easter holidays are here and I wanted to remind you that it’s not just a break from school or work; it’s an opportunity to reflect on the incredible sacrifice Jesus Christ made for all of us.
Many of us have already made plans to travel and enjoy time with our friends and family however, I want to encourage you to include attending a church service in your holiday plans. Churches worldwide will be holding special services on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and regardless of where you are vacationing, there will be an opportunity to remember God’s greatest act of love.
As a school community, we celebrated this important occasion with an Easter service on the last day of term. It was a powerful reminder of the significance of Easter and a wonderful opportunity to come together and give thanks for the blessings in our lives, as well as the ultimate sacrifice made for us.
Thank you for your continued support of our school community. I wish you all a blessed and meaningful Easter holiday.
Mike Curtis, Principal