Written by By Staff Writer
When a Kenyan video blogger picked up a prize at the recent Festival For, one of the world’s largest kids’ Vlogging festivals in the UK, he couldn’t resist breaking the news to the over 2,000 audience members.
“I’m in the top 100 most popular on TikTok, which I didn’t believe,” said Michael Kamau , before beginning his acceptance speech.
“One of the things I will always remember my mom talking about is, ‘Don’t trust other people, don’t trust anybody.’ I didn’t really understand that then, but when I started doing TikTok , I got really paranoid.”
With hundreds of millions of users across the globe, Facebook and Twitter may have consumers on their “friends” lists, but it’s YouTube, and specifically TikTok, that kids are talking to with the most frequency.
TikTok, and other specialized app like it, are increasingly popular with children and teenagers, because they allow them to share photos and videos under the age of 18.
While parents remain apprehensive about the outlet available to kids, some youngsters are even fighting to get the right to use it.
These apps can be particularly problematic for kids as the categories that they include, especially in children’s apps, are filled with inappropriate content that comes with real dangers.
Video content includes such terms as “insults,” “epic” and “horde,” and can also include footage of children screaming in pain as well as torture techniques like being chained to a wall or a tree.
Facebook, Instagram and TikTok have tightened their policies to prevent those kinds of uses and prevent pornographic content from being uploaded.
Kamau says he first got into making videos on TikTok because he “found that the content was very interesting.” The user experience quickly changed his life.
“One thing I noticed was the fact that when I showed the videos to friends, they were very surprised. They thought they were really funny, they wanted to watch more.”
He added: “After that, I realized that I can use a platform like TikTok more because I can share my story. I have a lot of fans. I have a lot of fans who have told me that they saw a picture I posted on TikTok.”
TikTok in popularity
Estimates put the number of people who watch content on TikTok and similar services on social media and television at between 300 million and 500 million worldwide.
Facebook has found it difficult to penetrate into the second generation of youth, people born in the 1990s and later.
However, if a recent study by Randstad Lease looks accurate, almost one in ten English-speaking youth aged 18 to 24 are signed up to TikTok in the UK.
Even former Prime Minister David Cameron took to the platform to share a photo, which created a mini frenzy in the UK media.
Earlier this year, TikTok was hit by controversy after it was found that the company was allowing vulnerable young users to abuse the platform. The company closed the matter down after a Guardian investigation found that a number of students in the UK were already exploiting the platform.
With the youth-vlogging festival Festival For recently taking place in London, it seems that kids have moved on from concerns about TikTok’s reputation in order to embrace the platform and its potential.
“You can do these sorts of videos and let the other kids see it, and the kids can make them worse,” says Kamau. “That’s because they don’t really understand how it works. People need to understand that because they think it’s porn, and they may see it or try it at home.”
This article originally appeared on CNN.com.