Teachers and TikToc

What teachers need to know about TikToc

Here we look at teachers and TikTok. A few weeks ago, our latest news was dedicated to what teachers should do regarding their online presence. However, since then it has become apparent that more and more teachers are being targeted via TicTok. The online abuse has led to increased stress levels for some teachers which has affected their mental health. Sadly it has led to sick leave for some. So here we explain what TicTok is and how it’s being used, as well as what you should do to protect yourself.

What is TicTok?

TicTok is a video-focused social networking platform for short videos lasting from 15 seconds to three minutes. The videos may be from genres like dance, comedy, and education. Established in 2016, it is available in 40 languages and very popular amongst young people. It’s popular because of its unique content. However, did you know it has been criticised as it can expose children to uncensored material. For example, children may see content involving racism. It has been blamed for normalising beauty and body shapes when they are unrealistic ideals. Consequently it places pressure on young people, which is counterproductive to their well-being. But did you know now, it is being mis-used by some children to publicly ridicule their teachers?

What is happening with TicTok and online abuse of teachers?

Teachers and TikTok is becoming an increasing problem. Pupils are setting up anonymous accounts and posting videos of teachers without their consent and knowledge. Footage may have been taken from online learning whereby teachers videoed themselves during lessons via Zoom or Team meets, not knowing how it could be used in the future. Also, pupils can search any online social media platform whether it be Facebook or Instagram, to find teachers’ profiles and use any material they have posted including photo or videos. It can involve humiliating clips and be abusive generally.

Why is it happening?

Students will always be curious about ‘Miss’ and ‘Sir’. You probably can remember that it is difficult for pupils to imagine sometimes that teachers are normal human beings with lives of their own.  Therefore, curiosity can drive them to search up their teachers and share their findings via TicTok. Teachers and TikToc may be an exciting opportunity for some pupils. They want to share their findings with their friends and if entertaining enough, with a wider audience. You may be surprised to know how much this is happening with leagues set up where teachers can be rated by pupils, however, there is also, posts of an abusive nature which are more serious, but whatever the level, they can be offensive without a teacher’s knowledge or consent. Also, there are no current laws preventing the use of images this way, so once you post something, it’s out there.

Also, there are a lack of laws and rules currently which prevent misuse of it. TikTok says it is taking extra measures to remove videos targeting teachers. Also the DfE plan to introduce laws to make social-media companies more accountable. It’s also being mooted that parents should be more accountable for what their children post online. Police may approach individuals about it but the law is currently unclear so is difficult for them to act. Changes in laws can take some time, so here are some tips to help protect teachers from TikToc.

Top 5 tips for teachers to protect themselves against TicTok
  1. Consider using a nickname for your social media profile. That way it will be hard and even impossible for children to find you online.
  2. Check your privacy settings on all the social media channels you use. You can change them so that only people you are friends with can only view your posts.
  3. Check images and take down anything that you are not happy for the whole world to see including your students.
  4. Un-tag yourself from any photos or videos that other people have posted with you in them.
  5. Check your profile often on all social media platforms. You should search yourself up regularly on social media platforms, even ones that you do not use to check what’s out there.