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Editorial: The other TikTok challenge is teaching kids right from wrong | TribLIVE.com

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Date: 2021-09-22 09:00:00

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Social media’s latest must-have app is creating problems in local schools.

TikTok is the app. Today’s incarnation is an example of a mainstay of the video-sharing app — collaboration. It was formed by the merger of Chinese company ByteDance’s product, started in 2016, with Musical.ly, another Chinese app started in 2014.

It’s an addictive little time vacuum whether you are watching videos of huskies howling at their owners or learning the gestures of new short dances. While it may look like pure fun, TikTok is not to be underestimated.

It is a driving force in popular music, not only showcasing new artists but also changing how songs are written. Beyond pop culture, it played a role in the Black Lives Matter protests after the death of George Floyd. It even had a part in the 2020 presidential election when droves of users signed up for blocks of tickets to Trump campaign events, leaving many venues with unused seats.

None of those had much local impact, however. The latest TikTok trend is both more destructive and more present. It’s called “devious licks.” That means doing something illegal or just wrong, filming it and posting it on the internet to gain “clout” — that rush of cyberfame that comes with lots of likes on your video.

This time, the trend isn’t about eating laundry detergent pods. This time, it’s vandalizing bathrooms and stealing fixtures. In a Florida school, someone even tried to rip out a sink.

It would be nice to think this is a very Floridian thing that couldn’t happen in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Administrators at Hempfield and Highlands school districts can say otherwise. So can state police at Greensburg, who have responded to an incident that involved a mirror and soap dispenser being removed from Hempfield High School.

Does that mean TikTok is a dangerous app that should be banned? That was a possibility in 2020 because of its foreign ownership but that ended with a preliminary injunction filed a year ago this week.

No, the problem is less the app than it is with most internet dangers involving teens and tweens. It’s a lack of supervision of their cyber activities. There is a reason this is happening at high schools and not at colleges and workplaces, even though 67.5% of TikTok’s 130 million U.S. users are older than 19.

This vandalism is not the only possible problem with the app. There is a dark side to every internet corner, and TikTok has faced complaints about activities such as bullying and content that promotes addiction, anorexia, bulimia and more. But it also has been a force for body positivity, news literacy and drawing attention to other important issues.

Highlands is taking the opportunity to use the bad behavior as a teachable moment, discussing the app and consequences. Parents should do the same.

Original Source: https://triblive.com/opinion/editorial-the-other-tiktok-challenge-is-teaching-kids-right-from-wrong/