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Parents to blame for children risking their safety online

19 9 9

The timing couldn’t have been better. Following Google’s recent launch of its Digital Wellbeing initiative – aimed at lessening our smartphones’ corrosive effects on modern life – came a grim reminder of those effects at their worst. An increasing number of Hong Kong children, it was reported, are becoming addicted to an iPhone app that risks violating their privacy and making them vulnerable to predators.

Tik Tok, launched in September 2016, is a music video platform and social network that lets users make and share 15-second music videos. It has become the world’s most popular iPhone app, surpassing giants like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

The clips from these famous-for-15-seconds performers range from the laughably amateurish to the sexually suggestive, all with the intention of drawing attention.

While users have to be aged 16 and above, there is no policing to stop younger people from joining or adults using false identities to stalk and prey on young girls and boys.

Electronic device addiction has become a global epidemic, to which few are immune. And that applies to many of you who are reading this column on your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. The question we are all too scared to ask is: is any initiative boosting digital well-being, from Google or anyone else, too little too late? Have we passed a tipping point?

We don’t know for sure. What we do know is that the signs have always been there that this e-addiction, like wildfire, will only spread further and faster and we appear powerless to stop........

© South China Morning Post