War against UkraineVideos on TikTok can incriminate children

Images of war, propaganda and disinformation are currently flooding the social media platform TikTok, which is popular with children and young people. The risk is very high that young users will be confronted with images of war, even if they are not looking for them. The algorithm suggests videos that are currently trending and #Ukraine is at the top of the list. FLIMMO, the parents' guide for TV, streaming and YouTube, has dedicated an article to this problem.

What is on display?

The spectrum of excessive demands and problematic content is huge: from emotional indictments of war, to instructions on how to drive a tank or defuse a mine, to images from butsha, rocket attacks and mortar fire from the victims' point of view. Many videos show war atrocities from a first-person perspective: people in dramatic distress documenting the horror of war with their smartphone cameras.

Dramatization and propaganda

In addition, there are also images of war that are reassembled and manipulated. Much of it is backed with sounds and gripping music that stir up emotions and make it very difficult to distance oneself. A classification rarely takes place, and it is almost impossible to verify the truth of images and information. Sometimes warring parties stage hair-raising tall tales with supposedly authentic footage.

False information is often shared to win people over to one's own opinion. Likewise, bots are used to comment on posts and manifest a certain opinion.
This unfiltered war propaganda and targeted disinformation is bad enough. However, some users also publish supposedly "real pictures" from the Ukraine war in order to achieve high viewing figures and thus to "trend".

What now?

For these reasons, children should not use TikTok unaccompanied. As understandable as the fascination of the original idea of TikTok is, namely to share fun videos in an uncomplicated way, the app has become risky in the current situation. In any case, parents should talk to children about what one can encounter on TikTok and that girls and boys immediately click away when war images appear.

What parents can do

  1. Observe minimum age
    According to the provider, TikTok can only be used officially from the age of 13. If parents allow the app, they should agree on rules for use with their child and check the settings.
  2. Use accompanied mode
    The "accompanied mode" can be used to filter the "For you" feed. This way, a few of the war pictures can be blocked out. However, parents also need their own TikTok account for this.
  3. Stayresponsive
    Since the videos on TikTok start automatically and you have little influence on the selection, the only thing that helps is to stay involved, answer questions and help classify them.

Search and find information suitable for children

Children and young people want to know - also about the war in Ukraine. To this end, FLIMMO has compiled suitable sources of information for children and young people here.

We would like to sincerely thank the Parents' Guide to TV, Streaming & YouTube FLIMMO for the release of the text. You can find the original article here.