TikTok: What is it and what to be aware of

TikTok is the latest social media network to go viral with 41% of its users being children and young people aged between 16 and 24 (May 2020). This network is for sharing user generated videos, usually 15-30 seconds long. These videos are usually of people dancing, lip syncing, acting out a meme or participating in various challenges. Users can spends hours scrolling through content with 800 million active users world wide as of May 2020.

This network can be a creative outlet for users as they learn the dances/songs, film and put together the video, in sync, as well as using filters and special effects as shown in the video above and here. 

 

However, as it becomes more and more popular, negative content starts to rise. This include users, particularly children and young people, putting themselves in dangerous situations and even harming themselves for likes and followers with the ultimate goal of becoming ‘famous’. Some of these situations have resulted in permanent injuries and even death. One challenges that was ‘trending’ was the Pass Out challenge where young people would film themselves holding their breath until they passed out, which cause people to faint, have seizures, suffer brain damage and, sadly, it can also result in death.

 

With suicide accounting for over a third of deaths among young people aged between 15 and 24 (2019) and increasing, we need to be more aware of what they are exposed to online. There are various tools and resources available for children and young people as well as parents and carers to help navigate the online world safely. We encourage you to read the below resources and have a discussion with your child/ren and put measures in place to create a safe online environment for them.

Our Clinical Services Team have provided further advice and information on suicide and self-harm.

 

We also encourage you to have a conversation with them about suicide and self-harm. Reminding that it is okay to talk about what they are feeling without judgement or fear of being dismissed. Ensure they feel supported and that there are other ways to deal with the situation. If they say that they want to die by suicide:

 

  • Engage your full attention

  • Support the child to describe the way they are feeling. Say “I am so sorry that you are feeling like this, tell me what has been going on for you?”

  • Ask if there was a specific event that made the child feel suicidal or a feeling that has been building

  • Acknowledge what the child is saying with your body and voice “uh ha, mmm”

  • Make sure that you do not minimise the child’s feelings, do not offer advice, sit with the information the child shares with you and allow them space to talk.

  • Ask the child directly if they have a plan for suicide. If the child has a plan the risk is significantly higher.

  • Label the emotions the child is describing

  • Tell the child that they are very important to you and that you care about them very much. Talk about who else cares about the child

  • Let the child know that you are very worried about them

  • Let the child know that they are not alone

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