Editorial l Keep watch on children’s social media | Editorials


THE ISSUE: Malicious TikTok trend hits county schools.

OUR OPINION: Be aware of your child’s social media activity.

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There are a lot of funny videos on TikTok, from goofy dance challenges to lip-synching trends. One can find themselves easily sucked in to an hour of mindless entertainment after watching just one video. It can become quite addicting. It seems like harmless fun.

But when TikTok challenges become destructive, like what has recently happened in Citrus County schools, we all should be concerned.

TikTok is a social media app that allows users to create short videos.

According to a 2020 New York Times article, TikTok classified more than one third of its 49 million daily users as 14 years old or younger. Thirteen is the minimum age allowed to use the app.

The latest TikTok trend — “devious licks” — involves students vandalizing or stealing school property, mostly from restrooms, and then posting their conquests on the social media app. The trend has hit all the county high schools and some middle schools.

Students participating in the “devious licks” trend have removed everything from restroom stall doors to urinals and sinks from their schools.

School principals have been communicating with students and sending callouts to parents and families. Schools also have been monitoring bathrooms and requiring students to sign in. It’s disappointing that some students don’t take pride in a place where they spend so much of the year.

Teens don’t always make the best decisions, even after parents have instilled in them good values, but destroying school property can lead to school suspensions and possibly criminal charges. That’s serious business, and some teens don’t realize what they think is a harmless prank can affect the rest of their high school years.

It’s critical parents monitor teens’ social media usage and remind them there are consequences for their actions. Teens need to know it’s OK to walk away when a friend decides to make an unhealthy decision.

The cost of damages to county schools is still not known. Perhaps if a student is caught — which seems likely since they post videos online — part of the punishment should be performing some community service. Or maybe the teen should be required to get a job and pay for the damage they caused.

Part of the problem is the cultural shift in technology wherein people — not just teens, but adults, too — are glued to their cellphones all day. Maybe it’s time to hearken to a few decades ago, before cellphones, and go outside and enjoy the Florida sunshine and the natural beauty of the Nature Coast.

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