Are there any points that I need to worry about?
Because Reels is focused on connecting with the global community, appropriateness of content and privacy are two points that parents need to be mindful of. For teenagers who are savvy about protecting their personal information and safeguarding their digital reputation, Reels should be a feature that they can navigate safely.
For children, however, Reels poses an issue. The exposure to potentially adult content. If the content on TikTok is anything to go by, sexual comments, glorification of drugs and alcohol, and general mature themes are commonplace. This type of content on popular forums can normalize mature behaviors, and young children often replicate these behaviors to fit in with the global trend. A prime example of this in August 2020 is the WAP (meaning ‘wet a** p***y’) dance challenge that is spiraling on TikTok. Highly sexualized dance moves being replicated by children is to a lesser extent just uncomfortable to watch, and to a greater extent dangerous to enticing online predators.
In regards to teenagers, parents should be teaching their teens about the importance of digital footprints. There are often trends on TikTok in particular about revealing secrets or posting content that is personal or risque. Remembering that all content posted is there forever and is a reflection of a teen’s online reputation may help deter them from posting videos that expose their sexual predilections, drugs of choice, or ‘story time’ videos about bad decisions they have made (and yes, these are all commonly posted content on video-sharing apps).
Another point that kids should know about is privacy settings. One of the main limitations that we see with Reels is that if young people have their accounts on Private, then their videos will only be seen by their followers, and not placed on the Explore page for the public to see. Given that the purpose of Reels is to contribute to global trends, we suspect that kids may forgo their privacy settings and change their profiles to Public in order to feature their Reels videos in the public area.
We hope this feature changes to allow videos to be made public and not their entire profile (a little like what Facebook allows people to do), but for now, we see this as a risk to be aware of.