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States and school systems take action against TikTok; will Washington do anything?

TikTok, Social Media

Colleges, school systems, and even state governments around the nation are taking a stand against the use of TikTok and other social media platforms in the classroom. Not only are its ties to the Chinese Communist Party still under investigation in Congress, but its constant use has long-term ramifications on students’ learning ability. Culturally, some would even describe TikTok as a poison to our youth, indoctrinating them with unhealthy ideas and exposure to mature content. It’s time the nation as a whole examines this issue with the gravity that it deserves. 

TikTok is guilty of numerous privacy violations that are deeply concerning, potentially threatening national security. In fact, TikTok was recently banned from all federal government devices for that very reason. The parent company ByteDance has strong links to the Chinese Communist Party and is highly suspected of carrying out surveillance operations on TikTok users and mining data from government devices.

Aside from the clear concern of a foreign government spying on our citizens, including children, the platform has been known to brainwash its users with the liberal agenda. TikTok routinely pushes videos of transgender individuals and their process of “switching genders,” making it look cool and appealing – and even normal – to kids. The app also promotes other progressive, pro-LGBT, and pro-abortion content on the feeds of susceptible kids.

These are valid issues, but where do they come into play with education? Countless studies show that TikTok and similar platforms encourage short attention spans and are literally rewiring children’s brains so that they cannot focus for longer periods of time – which is exactly what is required in school settings and in general a necessary life skill long term. One study showed that “the more time participants spent on TikTok each day, the more they became distracted when they were trying to pay attention in class and complete schoolwork.”

The Texas Public Policy Foundation wrote that “While all social media platforms have addictive properties, TikTok’s short video lengths mean kids can watch dozens of videos in mere minutes. As David Barnhart, a clinical mental health counselor at Behavioral Sciences of Alabama, explains, this sends the brain’s reward pathway into overdrive, and children in particular begin to require constant stimulation in order to remain sane.”

The use of TikTok outside of school is bad enough, but allowing the platform to be used inside the classroom serves only to distract children from what they are learning and create a disruptive environment. 

“This is a problem for schools on its own — kids won’t learn reading or math if they’re constantly pining for TikTok, or if their attention spans are so short that they can’t focus,” the Texas Public Policy Foundation continued. “Moreover, even if a teacher tries to integrate TikTok as a learning tool, kids can, will, and do easily swipe to an unrelated, possibly inappropriate video. Even more alarming is the fact that disreputable people and organizations know exactly how to exploit TikTok addiction.”

Over 100 colleges and universities around the nation have banned TikTok on their campus networks due to these concerns. Many other public schools are following suit, with Governor Ron DeSantis making Florida the latest state to ban its use on state-owned devices and networks, and he also took measures to restrict students’ cell phone use in general.

The state of Washington should take TikTok and social media in the classroom more seriously and realize the impact it has on students’ ability to learn. Parents should be on guard against the privacy concerns and patterns of brainwashing that have been noticed on TikTok and reconsider allowing their children to have access to the platform. 

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