Tik Tok Faulted by UK’s ICO and NSPCC for Lack of Child Safety Controls

Tik Tok Faulted by UK’s ICO and NSPCC for Lack of Child Safety Controls

Tik Tok, the leading video-sharing app that enables users to create short videos from their smartphones, and at the same time livestream their videos via Musical. Ly, is now under scrutiny of UK media and child safety watch dogs.

In February this year, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Tik Tok was slapped a fine amounting to $5.7 million (£4.2 million) for collecting personal information of children below 13 years old without securing parental consent.

Yet the UK’s Information Commissioner’ s Office (ICO) is currently investigating Tik Tok beyond the data protection concerns raised by the FTC. The ICO is currently scrutinising the safety controls available on the app’s direct messaging system, in the wake of separate investigations being conducted by the UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC),

The NSPCC has been receiving reports that young female users of Tik Tok and its Musical.ly website, are regularly receiving intrusive replies to their video posts from individuals they do not know, whom complainants described as “creepy.”.

ICO’s scrutiny of the TIK Tok social media site confirms that its app opens avenues for adults to send private messages to children who do not even know them.

Main Issue about Tik Tok App and Its Musical.ly Social Media Site

ICO’s investigation of Tik Tok’s Musical.ly is that unlike other social media sites, which prioritises and controls feeds according to user’s privacy settings, the site by way of its “For You” feature, regularly sends feeds that practically steer users toward posts of other Tik Tok live streamers. As a result, Tik Tok users who send “creepy” messages continue to find and like more posts of younger girls, streaming similar videos, soundtracks or using similar hashtags.

According to the NSPCC, since they record a daily average of as many a 22 cyber-related sex crimes committed against children, it is quite apparent that sex offenders continue to target children by getting in touch with them through live streaming apps like Tik Tok.

NSPCC’s research found that about 10,000 of every 40,000 children ranging in ages between 7 to 16 years old, have live streamed online with people they do not know or have never met. Of those 10,000 children, one in every 20 who has live streamed online with someone they have never met had received request to take off their clothes, via live streaming.

New Pew Research Shows U.S. Teens and Parents Alike Suffer from Smartphone Addiction

A recent Pew Research Center survey involving teens ages 13 to 17 indicate that they now acknowledge their addiction to their smartphones. Fifty-two percent (52%) of those who admitted to having spent too much time engaged in online activities, said they have tried reducing mobile phone use, while fifty-seven percent (57%) said they have made attempts to limit their visits to social media sites. Recognition of the problem though also came with admitting inability to control their smartphone dependency.

Of the 743 US teens interviewed between March 7 and April 10, 2018, fifty-four percent (54%) have become self-aware that they are devoting much time on their smartphones, while forty-one percent (41%) admitted to having spent much of those smartphone time on social media. Further analysis of the survey revealed the following:

* Girls more than boys (47% vs. 35%) are inclined to focus on social media sites during smartphone online engagements.

* On the other hand, forty-one percent (41%) of the boys involved in the study, spent much of their time online playing video games using their smartphones. In contrast, only eleven percent of (11%) of girls surveyed engaged in video games.

* Forty-four (44 %) percent of all teens surveyed have formed the habit of checking for messages or notifications as soon as they wake up. Only twenty-eight percent (28%) claim that they do this only occasionally

* Of the teens surveyed, forty-two percent (42%) admitted to suffer from anxiety and loneliness when deprived of phone use, to which the study shows more girls (49%) than boys (35%) experienced such emotions.

* Thirty-one percent (31%) admitted that their use of smartphones can distract them from focusing on their study, although only eight percent (8%) say that it happens frequently.

* Half of the number of teens surveyed think their parents are also distracted from work because of cellphone use. Fourteen percent (14%) thinks that their parent’s own tendency to lose focus on work occurs often.

What U.S. Parents and Experts Say about Teen Smartphone Addiction

In conjunction with this particular teen study, Pew Research also surveyed 1,058 parents of American teens. Approximately two-thirds or 65% parents expressed worries over the excessive number of hours spent by their children on their smartphones. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of the worried parents claim they either put limits on their kids’ online engagement, or on the use of their smartphone.

However since a number of the teens involved in the study have observed that their own parents have a tendency to lose focus on their work when engaged in online activities, MIT professor Sherry Turkle said the finding raises the issue even more. She said that parents themselves must start recognizing their own problems at smartphone addiction, as their technological behavior poses as example to their children.

 

Former Google in-house ethicist Tristan Harris, explains that teen addiction stems from the very way tech companies designed their products. During a conference about technology addiction, Harris, who co founded the Center on Humane Technology, said that the tendency of parents and kids alike, once they click on Youtube, is to keep watching as many Youtube videos as possible. The tendency often overpowers actions they need to take in meeting whatever goals they have thought of during their waking hours.