BURLINGTON, Vt. – As applications like TikTok continue their viral spread across social media, adults aren’t the only ones watching.
Despite age restrictions on certain applications, kids are still figuring out how to use them. Dr. Kimberlee Roy, a child psychologist at UVM Medical Center, said that could open up an online world of danger.
“We have to be really careful to remember that kids and teens are impulsive,” Dr. Roy said. “They will make impulsive decisions when using these applications. Adults may stop and think before they do things, and kids won’t.”
With viral apps like TikTok, which has reported over 150 million daily users, or communications apps like WhatsApp, ensuring the safety of children using them is difficult. Their viral nature also makes the problem worse.
“When the applications become very common, people think there’s no danger,” Dr. Roy said. “When kids and making videos on TikTok or they’re doing music videos on Musical.ly, parents think it’s not a problem, but when you go deeper on the application you start finding the inappropriate material, and it doesn’t take very long to find it.”
With the dangers of cyberbullying and the presence of online predators on messaging and dating apps, Dr. Roy said it’s important to make sure parents are taking the proper steps to protect their kids, even if those steps are met with some resistance.
“They need to have an honest discussion with their kids and tell them they’re going to be monitoring phone use, taking their phone every night to check,” Dr. Roy said. “The kids are going to find it intrusive, but that’s parenting. They need to know what their kids are using their phones for.”