Sunday, April 19, 2020

Is banning #TikTok an open-ended Solution?

April 15, 2020, 3:55 PM IST  in The WriteClick | World | TOI

In April 2019 the Madras High court had ordered the banning of TikTok only to be revoked in the same month. While there are concerns about the Chinese video-sharing platform’s threat to national security, some citing the possibility of the App being used as a tool by the Chinese Government to access confidential data, the App owner had claimed that it does not have any connection whatsoever with the Chinese government. Interestingly, the US Navy has banned the use of TikTok by its personnel. But what is important is the absence of any convincing evidence that proves the security threat allegations labeled on the App.
Apart from the security concerns, there are apprehensions on the contents which are available on the popular platform with some even alleging that ‘pornographic contents’ are found widely shared and responded. While a platform that has many of its users below the age of 18 is expected to check on the contents circulated, it is all the more important to note that among the hundreds of millions of users, there could be the possibility of a few people flaunting the guidelines. The ideal practice would be to avoid those contents and not search for it. The accusations leveled against the highly popular 15 seconds video sharing App being filled with vulgar contents, irrespective of its correctness- for I have not come across such, is not an argument strong enough to merit the ban as there are not only numerous sites which a person could visit, with that mindset, but also because the App’s content is mostly about creative videos shared by the users. It is the intention which should be educated and corrected, if need be.
Contrary to what naysayers have claimed to have seen, I saw talents in multitude and could not help myself feeling in awe of the immense gifts we are endowed with. Interestingly, it is not just influencers’ videos that are going viral. There are millions of popular video clips created by other users. You cannot honestly ignore the creative posts of hundreds and thousands of youths showcased in the App. It will not be an exaggeration to claim that some of them are way better than a few established stars.
There are valid concerns however of youths over-enthusiastic about the app, even to the extent of neglecting their studies by utilizing their times instead on creating or viewing videos in TikTok. Addiction is the word many parents prefer to use to describe this trend. It is, however, prudent to note that this concern of “addiction” is not restricted to TikTok alone. If there are millions of youths addicted to PUBG, then there are an equal number of people spending too much of their times on Social network like Facebook and WhatsApp. Someway, somehow this issue needs to be addressed. That will however require a paradigm shift in not just our cyber laws but also our general attitude; to embark on a collective approach towards “addictive internet apps” as a whole and not just TikTok.
At present, banning TikTok will only result in the migration of users from one platform to another. This is when the role of parents and the moral consciousness and responsibility of the youths become imperative. While moderation of the users for judicious usage should be the focus, proper care should be taken in dealing with the youths to circumvent depression and aggressive behavior associated with the withdrawal of any addiction. One way of doing that is by encouraging our youths to engage their time and energy in choosing hobbies outside Social Media. This will require a larger involvement from parents and adults by not just crying for the ban but by engaging the users in other activities; to show them that there is a world outside social media and for us to understand the fact that there are alternative ways other than banning the App for a long-lasting solution.

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