Social media sites can be entertaining, useful for work and downright exhilarating but like any other drug, they can be exhaustive and addictive. For most of us our phones, tablets and laptops are an extension of ourselves. We cannot live without them, put them down or ignore them. That can be very unhealthy and TikTok thinks they have an answer although currently it’s aimed at teenagers.
Most of us are pretty helpless when it comes to the siren call of our phone’s notification sound. You feel the irresistible urge to want to check and sometimes in the dead of night that involves you being roused from your sleep to either reach out or even wake up and walk to the charging phone to take a peek. A peek becomes a midnight social media binge.
A simple solution to a popular problem
TikTok’s solution is pretty simple. Those aged between 13-15 years will not receive push notifications starting from 9 PM and those aged 16-17 will not receive notifications from 10 PM until the next morning. The hope is that these restless teenagers will study, work, sleep and relax more. It’s something that has privacy and child rights advocates beaming. It’s also something that other social media service providers should consider emulating.
In addition to this TikTok has introduced other measures:
- By default direct messaging is set to off by default if you are within the above age groups. This means that teenagers need to actively change their privacy settings if they want to receive direct messages.
- Teenagers will also have to select their intended audience if they want to share a video. They will have to choose from the following options:
- Their followers
- Only friends
- Just themselves
These measures are meant to prevent “grooming”. This is when child abusers try to trick young children so they can lure them and proceed to sexually abuse them. Most of this normally takes place in DMs and usually that only happens because these criminals can easily access profiles of children whose posts are public and then target them.
Tech giants slowly moving in the right direction
This is not bad at all from a tech company that’s often dismissed as just a Chinese company by leaders in the West. It’s just the latest example of the shift in how tech giants are now viewing and handling privacy issues these days.
In the olden days, they would have shrugged and evaded responsibility. Now we have this from TikTok, Google said they will remove images of children from search results, as well as limit commercial content from YouTube Kids, Google getting rid of SugarDaddy apps, and Apple introducing ways to detect child abuse material.
All these measures no doubt will come will cause controversy but they are needed in my humble opinion for our sake and for the sake of our children and other vulnerable members of society.