how a Chinese social media platform harms our children

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen

A recent study shows that young Americans between the ages of 4 and 15 spend almost 86 minutes a day on the Chinese social media platform TikTok. In China, children are limited to just 40 minutes a day and cannot use the app, called Douyin locally, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. content filled with sex, drugs and violent challenges.

Without a doubt, social media platforms like TikTok are extremely addicting to minors, as evidenced by TikTok’s new generation of child stars / “influencers” turning users as young as 6 into millionaires overnight.

While TikTok has the potential to provide opportunities for entertainment, education and entrepreneurship – recent media reports show that the platform in practice encourages violence and vandalism in schools, deadly viral challenges. , bullying, eating disorders, grooming, and manipulative influence marketing, including knowing TikTok. push pornography, drugs and alcohol content to minors, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

With more than a third of its users under the age of 21, TikTok is perhaps the most dangerous social media platform for kids, despite competition from Facebook, which has reportedly knowingly promoted suicidal thoughts and issues. teenage body image. The two platforms are in a race to the bottom to ensure that teens become addicted and loyal to the brand.

As the Chinese government promotes absurd theories on social media platforms, such as a Chinese consul general tweeting last week that COVID originated from lobsters in Maine, it is possible that TikTok is a Chinese Trojan horse designed to cultivate decline and addiction among our children.

As parents and state attorneys general, we closely monitor Congressional hearings and sift through sources of information to determine the best ways to protect children in our states.

Our Internet Crimes Against Children units are designed to catch predators that prey on our children online, TikTok is a different form of Predator – a Chinese platform that provides adult content to minors as young as 13 years old.

Last month’s report in the Wall Street Journal titled, How TikTok Serves Underage Sex and Drug Videos, is extremely surprising.

The report chronicled the cycle of sexual content served to a 13-year-old boy who is looking for “fans only.” If a teenager is looking for pornography on their platform, TikTok marks the young user’s interest in sex and quickly offers more and more scenes of a sexual nature. As a result, the 13-year-old ‘For You’ thread ended up being entirely engulfed in performance videos harnessing sexual power dynamics, promoting sexual violence, recommendations for sex shops, and content tagged as “for adults only”.

Like Facebook, TikTok is about profit, not people, regardless of the side effects. TikTok’s rise to 1 billion users is due to the addictive nature of its viral videos and trendy content.

Sadly, life-threatening challenges and binge drinking among underage people are part of the trends.

On September 19, the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs revealed that the top 100 videos on TikTok with the hashtag “alcohol” had nearly 300 million views since 2020, with 61% promoting binge drinking. and the “rapid consumption of several drinks. “

Unlike a law-abiding bar, convenience store, or liquor store, it seems TikTok doesn’t differentiate enough between what it serves a 13-year-old and a 21-year-old.

Sadly, pornography and alcohol are perhaps the least serious vices TikTok promotes among minors.

In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission fined Bytedance $ 5.7 million to settle allegations that Musical.ly, which Bytedance bought and renamed TikTok, illegally collected information from minors. It was the FTC’s biggest penalty in a child privacy case.

Since then, TikTok’s content has gotten much worse. Last year, his “puzzle challenge” landed many minors in hospitals and others in handcuffs accused of aggravated assault.

This year’s viral challenges have landed minors in legal hot water, ranging from theft of items like soap dispensers, fire alarms, and bathroom mirrors from schools to “hitting a member of the staff.” staff, ”including a student who faces 10 years in prison after allegedly beating a physically disabled teacher in Covington, Louisiana.

The future challenges being promoted are just as bad and kinky, including “dressing the halls and showing your balls” in December and “pecking” in January.

Like Facebook, TikTok is well aware of the harm its platform does to minors. As chief legal officers of our states, we are keeping a close eye on the Chinese social media platform and its algorithm that leads our children into burrows of sex, drugs, alcohol, and illegal driving.

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About Ryan Headley

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