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TikTok - Is it really an "unfriendly" social media platform?

TikTok to add 10,000 U.S. jobs in 3 years, reports say
Posted at 5:55 PM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 19:55:16-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — School threats. Violence. Dangerous challenges.

These are just some of the videos on TikTok that appear to be making the app what some call an 'unfriendly social media', with some leading to injuries, deaths, and even lawsuits.

TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the world, yet its impact can be felt right here at home.

So what can you do to make sure your kids stay safe?

“No TikTock,” said Aaron Gonzalez of Corpus Christi. When we asked him why, he said, “I just don’t trust the videos out there.”

Gonzalez is very protective of his kids, 9-year-old Adalina and 6-year-old Avery. His motto?

"Try to control everything that they watch,” he said. And the reason why his kids don’t have access to it?

"TikTok is for adults,” Gonzalez told us. “Not for children. They are very impressionable.”

Just last month, police in South Florida arrested three students ranging in age from 13 to 15 for allegedly making violent threats on social media.

A vague, unverified TikTok challenge went viral and encouraged students to call in threats to their schools.

“And they can hurt themselves by those challenges,” Gonzalez warned. "Anybody could put a video. Anybody could put a video, I don’t know.”

"It’s like amazing," says 9-year-old Adalinza Gonzalez, Aaron’s daughter. “You could dance. You could challenge. You can do a lot of stuff on it.”

That’s not from first-hand experience. Instead, Adalina says she’s heard that from her friends at school who use the app, and that is just the beginning.

"They’re like bad people on there and 'I just want to know what’s your phone number and your address',” Adalina recalls several of her friends sayings.

We also wanted to get an idea of TikTok and it’s effect on some of our local teenagers, so we went to the skate park at Cole Park to find out.

We asked a group of teens how many used the TikTok app? Several raised their hand.

20-year-old Marcus Cooper had the app, but then decided to get rid of it.

“You see some profanity on there,” he told us, adding, “yeah nudity. A lot of nudity on there as well."

So what do the experts have to say?

“There are natural consequences to some of the things that are above and beyond the typical team mistakes," Dr. Briana Sacco, a child psychiatrist at Driscoll Children’s Hospital said.

Having worked with children for years, she advises parents to have open and honest conversations with their kids; to make sure they know exactly what their kids are doing; and make sure they’re not setting themselves up for a picture they take or a video they record that could go viral, especially if they didn’t want it to.

"You are exposed to things that might not necessarily be thinking things all the way through, and some kids can get caught into some of these bad behaviors that they might not otherwise do,” Dr. Sacco advises.

She also suggests parents check their kids’ privacy settings, find out what they're viewing, and keep the conversation going.

As for Adalina, she tells us, “I’m thinking I should not have it.”

It’s music to the ears of her dad who whole-heartedly agrees.

"At the end of the day we are responsible for our kids and we have to protect them as much as we can,” Gonzalez told us as he and Adalina and Avery finished their day at the park.

So how bad can TikTok be? One mother went so far as to download the TikTok app ,log in as her daughter and followed her friends for weeks, at the end saying, she was truly scared of the impact TikTok would have not only on her daughter, but other children as well.