Editor's Picks Opinion

The TikTok Ban Dilemma

TikTokBan - The TikTok Ban Dilemma

Syed Fareed Ali

Just recently, a civil miscellaneous application has been filed in the Lahore High Court demanding an immediate ban on a famous mobile phone video application, TikTok.

The lawyer, Advocate Nadeem Sarwar, said more than 10 deaths had been reported in the country in incidents relating to the users of the application. Moreover, he said, the video-sharing application had become a source of spreading pornography for the sake of fame and ratings on social media referring to a recent incident wherein a girl had been gang-raped by a group of friends whom she acquainted on the TikTok.

TikTok was released outside China in 2017 and has grown speedily, with 546 million global users in 2019 and more monthly users than Twitter or Snapchat. It is worthwhile to note that the application has been downloaded 25.5 million times in Pakistan since its launch, becoming one among the fastest growing social media platforms within the country reaching age groups, mainly millennials, from 12 – 40 years.

YouTube and Facebook are different because through them one can invest in itself either by gaining knowledge or by spreading it. And both these platforms provide a way for you to earn money/trade/mentor or get mentors to help you with your financial goals. I can hardly say the same for TikTok though one can earn a decent amount of money from it but still it’s a far cry for most of the people. While the application’s importance cannot be avoided given the age of technology we’re living in, its negative effects are yet to be given serious attention to.

The average user spends 52 minutes per day on TikTok. 90% of TikTok users visit the app quite once per day. Average time spent within the app, consistent with TikTok, is almost 5 minutes, longer than both Snapchat and Instagram.

Since the app boasts an “endless stream” of fabric, students are likely to spend an extended time within the app and might even become hooked in to watching the videos for hours at a time. This addiction is a possible and strong negative effect.

Second one is bullying. A recent example of gang-rape of a girl is quite evident. Furthermore, some people make fun of each other’s videos, while others are making videos just to ridicule their fellow TikTokers.

Third is comparison. People make outrageous, and even dangerous, videos to get more likes and followers. Hashtag challenges are a simple trick to gain likes, but a number of the challenges aren’t appropriate for tweens and teenagers.

Apps like TikTok can easily be employed by predators to solicit minors because the app makes it easy for strangers to direct message children. There are no restrictions as to who can join the app and it is used internationally, connecting virtually everyone thus raising security concerns.

And finally mental health. Some experts report it is often easy to return across triggering content on the app that would promote issues like self-harm or eating disorders.

TikTok may be a fun and artistic outlet for users to post dance compilations, tell funny jokes, and boast their talents. But without taking serious precautions, it’s bound to create negative effects on this country’s youth.

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