Parents of teens and tweens may be familiar with TikTok, a popular social media app that allows you to create videos by lip-synching or dancing along to songs. However, parents might not be as familiar with the problematic content on the app. When ABC News scrolled through TikTok’s content, they found videos of teens “talking about buying condoms, lying to their parents … alcohol and drugs.” Although TikTok’s terms of service stipulate that it can only be used by children under 18 with a parent’s consent, once a child has access to the app, there’s virtually no limit to the content they can view and post.
According to NBC, there is a version of TikTok for kids under age 13 where they can create but not post videos and where they can only view videos deemed appropriate for children. However, there’s still a possibility of videos containing foul language in music lyrics making their way to your child’s feed. But NBC also says that TikTok offers parental controls that make the app safer for younger audiences: . Parents can filter out certain keywords, block other accounts, and even manage their screen time. (TikTok has also created extensive privacy settings in order to limit who can see and comment on your child’s account.)
NBC further encourages parents to teach their children about how to stay safe online (for more help, see our own Parent’s Guide to Technology). They also remind parents to be aware of the ways that cyberbullies can get through filters and privacy settings to hurt your child through TikTok. “What some people do is, they take a video they deem ‘cringeworthy’ and they make fun of it in a duet or reaction [where the videos appear side by side],” Christine Elgersma, senior editor of parent education at Common Sense Media, told NBC. As a final note, NBC tells parents to check TikTok out for themselves: “After just 15 or 20 minutes scrolling through videos and learning the settings, you should have a good idea of whether it’s an app you’d feel comfortable letting your child use.”
NBC also reported this week that some brave citizens of Sweden have begun receiving microchip implants in their hands that act as their ID, wallet, and even keys. These chips, which are about the size of a grain of rice, are inserted in the purlicue of the hand (that flap of skin between your thumb and index finger). For just a few seconds of time and a pinch of the skin, these Swedes can now go to work, buy some snacks, and even login to their computers by scanning their hands.
The Vatican unveiled its own technology this week with the “smart rosary” bracelet, Fox News reports. The bracelet works similarly to a FitBit but for prayer. Activated by making the sign of the cross, it connects to the “Click to Pray” app (the official prayer app of Pope Francis’s Worldwide Prayer Network) where users can choose between different rosary prayers loaded onto the app.
In what can only be described as tragic, the Centers for Disease Control has reported that suicide rates among teens and young adults have risen 56% from 2007 to 2017. Studies have examined substance abuse, social media, and the use of technology as contributing factors to young people’s worsening mental health, but Ursula Whiteside, a researcher with the University of Washington, told The Washington Post that there are far too many factors to blame any one culprit. “The truth is anyone who says they definitely know what is causing it doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” she said. “It’s a complex problem with no easy answers so far.” Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among Americans ages 10 to 24 and remains the tenth-highest cause of death in America in 2017.
Back in September, New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis was fined $7,000 by the NFL for wearing a headband printed with the phrase “Man of God.” Per the league uniform policy, “personal messages” are prohibited during games, says USA Today. According to Fox News, Davis started turning the situation into a positive by selling the headbands and pledging to donate 100% of the proceeds to St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. The black-and-gold headbands saying “Man of God” and “Woman of God” have raised more than $60,000, and with an equal matching grant, the hospital has been given $120,000 in donations. Fans rallied behind Davis during the ordeal, with schoolchildren making “Child of God” headbands out of paper to wear in school. This support, along with Davis’ donations, caused the league to relent and repeal the fine. Davis, who has also been known to pray for opponents injured during the game, said, “This is amazing. It just shows you the power of God… I would have never thought this whole movement would have happened.”