Below is a fascinating article taken from ‘Deseret News’ regarding the level of social media and educational influences differences for those in China and the rest of the world.

It involves the popular social media platform ‘Tik Tok’ and how Chinese children are being shown completely different videos to those of other countries. The videos China allows their children to see are more educational – so are they trying to positively influence their children and not ours?

Is TikTok different in China compared to the U.S.?

Although they’re owned by the same company, TikTok in China offers a child-friendly version, with educational videos and a time limit, that isn’t offered in the U.S.

TikTok in China

Although they’re both owned by ByteDance, Douyin — China’s version of TikTok — offers a different version of the social media app that is unavailable to the rest of the world, especially for children.

“It’s almost like they recognize that technology is influencing kids’ development, and they make their domestic version a spinach version of TikTok, while they ship the opium version to the rest of the world,” Tristan Harris, a former Google employee, and advocate for social media ethics, said of China’s approach to TikTok.

“If you’re under 14 years old, they show you science experiments you can do at home, museum exhibits, patriotism videos and educational videos,” said Harris, according to “60 Minutes,” adding that children in China were limited to only 40 minutes a day on the app.

“There’s a survey of pre-teens in the U.S. and China asking, ‘what is the most aspirational career that you want to have?’ and in the U.S., the No. 1 was a social media influencer, and in China, the No. 1 was astronaut,” Harris said. “You allow those two societies to play out for a few generations and I can tell you what your world is going to look like.”

How does the U.S. algorithm compare?

In the U.S., TikTok is known for its addicting, personalized and predictive algorithm, specifically tailored to the interests of whoever is scrolling, according to an investigation by The Wall Street Journal.

TikTok doesn’t have a specific version made for children, and limits are completely voluntary and can be set up by parents if they wish to do so, according to “60 Minutes.”

Dr. Nia Williams, a researcher at Bangor University who specializes in children’s mental health, told BBC that TikTok’s “short and sweet” video format is designed to give hits of dopamine with each video, keeping users addicted.

“TikTok has videos you might find funny, and you want to see them because they make you feel good. That’s the main nucleus of all sorts of different addictions,” Williams said. “Whatever you search for on TikTok, that algorithm will be kept. The more you search for things that you like, they will be aware of what you like and that’s what you will be fed.”

“It’s a multimillion-pound industry and they will be making money from adverts that will feed into different algorithms,” Williams added.

My final thoughts…

Luckily my two children are not enough for social media yet (I wish to delay it for as long as possible!) but I am ASTONISHED to learn that the creators of this social media app allow the world to see certain types of videos yet for their own children and teenagers they are cleverly influencing what they see – and with a time limit also! Why do Chinese kids only get 40 minutes per day to use on it yet our kids can go for hours? Something isn’t right here. I personally believe what these experts do – that China is trying to make our kids social media obsessed while their kids strive in education and the workplace.

Just to add, I have nothing against China as a country! Our educational board games were made in China and I have many friends from the country. I just find it quite shocking how clever they seem to be in influencing their children positively and into education! Thoughts?