Northern Ireland

TikTok safety guide launched to support schools, parents and carers

The new guide was launched on Tuesday at Ashfield Girls' High School to mark Safer Internet Day. Picture by Aaron McCracken
The new guide was launched on Tuesday at Ashfield Girls' High School to mark Safer Internet Day. Picture by Aaron McCracken The new guide was launched on Tuesday at Ashfield Girls' High School to mark Safer Internet Day. Picture by Aaron McCracken

A NEW guide to help schools and parents on the use of the social media app TikTok has been launched.

The initiative by the Education Authority provides advice on the basics of how TikTok works, the potential risks associated with it and helpful tips on how to best support young people on the use of such platforms.

TikTok is a social media application where users can create, share, and watch short videos; and which allows users to express themselves in creative ways such as singing, dancing and performing comedy sketches.

However, the EA says the new guide has been launched as TikTok has become a platform used to target abuse against members of the teaching profession.

In a recent survey carried out by INEQE Safeguarding Group across the school community, 67 per cent of teachers who responded stated that they had experienced this type of teacher targeted bullying.

The EA guide, created in partnership with Safer Schools NI at INEQE Safeguarding Group and the Department of Education, was launched on Tuesday at Ashfield Girls' High School to mark Safer Internet Day.

Elaine Craig from the EA said: "The importance of online safety for children and young people cannot be underestimated.

"While TikTok is a hugely popular platform, potential risks include social pressures, stranger danger, lack of age verification, and access to explicit content.

"The Education Authority is aware of the social media challenges facing schools, parents, carers and the pupils themselves and we are fully committed to the safeguarding of children and young people.

"We were delighted to work with online safety experts INEQE and the Department of Education on these guides which are a highly useful resource, and which form part of our long-term strategy to keep young people safe while online."

Colin Stitt from the INEQE Safeguarding Group said apps, such as TikTok, are "an important part of many young people's lives".

"These spaces provide a place to connect with friends, consume content and express themselves, however we also cannot overlook the safeguarding risks that these platforms carry," he said.

"This includes the concerning rise of teacher targeted bullying. This has far-reaching ramifications for not just the teachers being targeted, but also the young people involved."

"As part of this partnership, we are delighted to have developed these guides which are easily accessible on our award-winning, free to download, Safer Schools NI App.

"Here you will also find a wealth of information to help you stay up to date with everything in the online world."

The TikTok guides can be accessed from saferschoolsni.co.uk/tiktok-guides