TikTok fears as app is leaving children ‘ostracised’

Nicola Bulley: Police provide update on search

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An expert has warned that TikTok can lead to children feeling “ostracised” as they are forced to keep up with trends. TikTok has become the fastest growing social media platform after launching in 2016, with the app repeatedly causing waves in the media as children navigate the controversial site. It comes as “TikTok detectives” have been blasted by the police for “hindering” the investigation into Nicola Bulley’s disappearance. Dan Duffy, a TikTok creator from Darwen, was detained by police on Friday (February 10) on a public order offence and issued with a £90 fine for filming in the area where police had issued a dispersal order while search teams looked for Ms Bulley.

And the constant need to keep up-to-date with what’s appearing on the app could be the cause of this, with Nicola Bulley being one of the top searches in the UK in recent weeks.

In January, the ‘blackout challenge’ led to the deaths of two children, while people have been warned not to follow the latest trend of ‘death diving’ into water from huge heights.

Children’s behaviour expert Sophia Ziff, from ToddlersTeensAndBetween, told Express.co.uk: “Students have shared that it isn’t even considered an ‘app’, it just is part of life! It changes sleeping schedules, influences opinions so everyone agrees and jumps on the bandwagon of comments, provides an open forum for discussion or threads and even a space for arguments.

“So many trends come from TikTok, so the pressure to be on and informed is immense otherwise you ‘fall behind’. Students have shared that if you’re not on TikTok like your friends, you’re essentially out of the culture loop and almost ostracised and judged as boring or unpopular.

“Moreover, the speed of cancel culture and shared comments on videos makes for homogenised opinions and often not based in objective fact but word based journalism and finding proof to accuse. Students explain that they watch ‘news’ on TikTok.

“Fact based checking is really hard to do and bias and agenda all play a part including the fact that the content is shared in such short snaps of time.

“In addition, if videos get likes and that video is a trend it informs and influences behaviour you can amass a large following quickly, so mental maturity matters.”

Ms Ziff also said children’s attention span has “decreased dramatically” which leads TikTok creators to create shocking content to keep viewers engaged and gain more followers.

She added: “The blackout challenge – where you try to faint on camera – is part of trends to be viewed and liked on TikTok. Because attention span has decreased so dramatically, it is either the more shocking or the most relatable content which will receive the most likes.

“Students have shared others including making themselves ‘high’ off glue on camera, the ‘skullbreaker’ challenge where you are kicked over and hit your head as you jump between two people, how much deodrant you can put in your mouth at one time and even a ‘Cha Cha Slide’ challenge where users move the wheel left and right whilst driving according to the lyrics.

“Parents definitely need to bring up the conversation about making their own sensible choices and and state the benefit of being discerning and not easily influenced by peer pressure.

“Parents need to monitor the behaviour of teens rather than the content on their TikTok page as this is the biggest sign of changes and ultimately, it can feel like an invasion of privacy and most teens are uncomfortable with parents knowing too much with them.”

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A number of people have travelled to St Michael’s on Wyre to film videos at the scene where Nicola Bulley went missing on January 27.

The case has brought in a lot of interest online, with reports of people breaking into homes in the area and taking the “law into their own hands”.

At a press conference on Wednesday, the Senior Investigating Officer said TikTokkers had “distracted” officers from their work with “false accusations and rumours”.

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