A strong support for the Government’s decision not to ban the social media app TikTok rang out from teenagers in Arnett Gardens, St Andrew, who last Thursday insisted that the platform offers relief, upliftment, and educational benefits.
In unison, the response “No” was heard from the teenagers who promptly raised their hands to justify their answer when asked if the country should prohibit the app, during a Jamaica Observer/Rise Life Management session conducted in partnership with the Trench Town Development Committee in a section of Arnett Gardens called Mexico.
The children were in full agreement with minister with responsibility for information Robert Morgan, who in April told a post-Cabinet media briefing that the Government has no intention of banning the popular social media app.
Morgan at the time had said while the Government cannot control the rules and regulations of other countries, the Andrew Holness Administration is committed to having a free communication space in Jamaica.
But even as they supported the Government’s position, the teenagers argued that parents should monitor their children to ensure they stick to appropriate content.
Seventeen-year-old Everton Levy, who attends Tarrant High School, said although the app is distracting, he doesn’t believe that his peers have a social media addiction.
He also said that the app acts as a stress reliever.
“When you’re under school pressure you can just go on it and find yourself relieved. The dancing and other short videos on it really help, and a parent should be there with the children and let them do homework first then TikTok after,” said Levy.
His peer Christine Beckford agreed, noting that while it has negative content, there is also useful content for viewing.
“You are not supposed to ban TikTok because although the kids are on it, you can monitor them â€” for example, if it’s studying time you just take away their devices for a while,” the 14-year-old reasoned.
“Most of the time you can go on TikTok and you have people who upload videos on subjects that students can learn from. Even if there is inappropriate content, you can have the option of suggesting that you are not interested,” said Beckford.
Eighteen-year-old Anthony Creary who attends the Trench Town Polytechnic College chimed in, “It’s helpful for adults and children. You have teachers on TikTok who help children and you have religious stuff. There are so many informative things on TikTok, not just dancing alone.”
At the same time, he said the app helps to unite communities.
“It brings a lot of people together. When kids start dancing on TikTok the whole community comes together and it brings peace, love and unity,” he added.
For 13-year-old Danielle Warren, who attends Meadowbrook High School, the app is very convenient.
“It is very useful sometimes if you watch some of the life hack videos on TikTok; you can help to make life easier for you,” she said.
Seemingly a lone voice among the group who believed that the app should be prohibited, 13-year-old Ajani Chin said, “There is a lot of inappropriate content on it, so yes, TikTok should be banned.”
Last year the growing increase in the number of TikTok videos featuring Jamaican youth saw Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison moving to clamp down on parents and children involved in mostly slack and improper content.
Gordon Harrison said her office would be taking steps to identify the children and then would conduct social enquiries into their home situation to determine what is fuelling the increase in age-inappropriate content, thereafter determining when there is need for criminal prosecution.
Further, experts in cybercrime, child protection, and information technology also expressed support for the crackdown.