Tik Tok videos show Hong Kong needs to act on protecting children online
I read with concern your reports on the inappropriate use of the popular iPhone app, Tik Tok, which said videos featuring self-harm and other life-risking activities, as well as sexually suggestive content, could be easily be found on the platform.
What worries me the most as a schoolteacher is that many of these videos are posted by Hong Kong primary and secondary school students, some as young as nine.
It is natural for children under the age of 16 to be eager to seek attention and acceptance, of peers and adults alike. But children’s vulnerability, and their lack of awareness about cybersecurity and personal information protection, cannot be ignored to maximise profit. Companies must show social responsibility.
If underage users of social media have limited control over their privacy and the audience of their videos, it puts them at risk from online predators.
We know most upper primary students in Hong Kong own a smartphone. Tik Tok is only one of several apps popular among them – other social media platforms may also expose youngsters to potential harm.
It is unrealistic to ban children from using these platforms, so parents must keep an eye on their online activities. Schools should also help educate youngsters about online safety and personal data protection.
Our city lacks a department that specifically deals with children’s online safety and privacy protection. This is perhaps an immediate step to take.
Laverne Cheung, Hung Hom