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Tiktok and mental health

Children and mental health: the U.S. investigation into TikTok

Prosecutors in eight U.S. states are investigating the social network's strategies to get its youngest users to spend more time online.

Tiktok and mental health

They are "protecting children and supporting parents," said Thomas Donovan, Vermont's attorney general. On Wednesday, March 2, a coalition of eight U.S. states announced it was launching an investigation into TikTok, a social network that streams dozens of one-second music or parody videos in a continuous stream that changes based on users' tastes.

Accused of harming the mental health of children, teenagers, and young adults, TikTok is under investigation for its algorithms and marketing practices. The U.S. wants to investigate "techniques used to encourage young people" to spend more and more time on TikTok, responding to content and interacting with creators, according to California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont. According to a TikTok study cited by U.S. magazine Wired, users spend an average of one hour and twenty-five minutes a day on the site.

"Our children are growing up in the age of social media and many feel the need to compete with the filtered versions of reality they see on their screens," California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement. "We know this has a devastating impact on the mental health and well-being of children. But we don't know what the companies themselves knew or when they knew it," he added.

TikTok, which is a subsidiary of China's ByteDance Group, responded by promising to "provide information about the many safety and privacy mechanisms we have put in place for teens," according to a spokesperson. "We are very committed to creating an experience that promotes the well-being of our community, and we appreciate the Attorney General's attention to the safety of our youngest users."

In the U.S., TikTok is available to those under 13 through a special version of the social network, while in France the app is theoretically banned for children of that age. TikTok says it has one billion active users worldwide.

Instagram also targeted

This investigation follows one against Meta, Facebook's parent company, by the same eight US states. They accuse the social media giant of marketing Instagram to young people and ignoring internal reports of potential harm from the app revealed by Frances Haugen, a whistleblower, last fall.

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Instagram and mental health


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