Close on the heels of the suicide of a class X student of GD Birla Centre for Education at Bansdroni, for which a probe had been initiated, had revealed that the girl used to visit different web platforms and apps that are considered to be psychologically damaging.
Police sources also said that the various apps are not only damaging the psyche of youngsters, but also telling on their careers as a considerable number of young people had taken extreme steps to kill themselves. As preliminary investigations into such cases revealed, as many as six to seven people in the city had been found dead due to various psychological problems, arising out of use of popular mobile applications and games, a prominent one of which is Tik Tok- a short video platform that enables users to create videos as a mode to show their creativity and skills, mostly by lip syncing with popular songs and dialogues and effects.
Insights from young Tik Tok users of the city explain why people are ready to go to any extent for a short video. Sulagna Ghosh, a postgraduation student of St. Xavier’s University, said that since she enjoys dancing and acting, the app is a platform for her to bring out her real dramatic self. Irresponsible actions are, however, discouraged, and inadvisable. Speaking about the rise of ‘social media celebrity phenomenon’, Ronit Singh, an undergraduate student of a private institute in Topsia, said that the app is like a smaller version of TV, and attracts eyeballs because people look up to users who have become celebrities and earned both fame and fortune. “However, attempting life-threatening acts are definitely inappropriate and some serious step should be taken in this regard,” said Ronit.
Anushka Upasak, a digital marketing trainer with a city-based private organisation, called that app a postwork past time and said that “Its like a talent pool. Cultural activities have always excited me and I follow popular people on the app to learn about various features from their videos”
Anushka, however, agreed that senseless content does exist on the app.
No major incident has taken place in the city yet because of Tik Tok, but several incidents have been reported from across the country. A 12-year-old boy accidentally choked himself to death in Kota, while trying to shoot a video for Tik Tok. Earlier this month, a 17- year- old boy accidentally pressed the trigger of a country-made pistol, while shooting a Tik Tok video in Ahmednagar.
Two months ago, another 19-year -old died in Delhi while posing with a gun for a Tik Tok video, when the pistol accidentally went off. Owned by Chinese company ByteDance, Tik Tok started merely as a social network for the youngsters, but has gained ground attracting a range of audience in India, UK and US.
Tik Tok has been making record revenues but has been the most divisive app in the Indian history. It came under the radar after it was alleged that it has been allowing ‘sleazy’ content which is deemed unfit for the audiences. The age range on the app begins from 12+, making it a highly fertile ground for paedophiles.
More so, users of this app go to great extents to gain followers and likes, such as males dressing up as females, painting their faces and use of banned objects like guns.
The application did face a temporary takedown from app stores in India, starting with an appeal by PMK in Tamil Nadu, reaching up to the corridors of the Supreme Court, but Madras High Court’s inability to substantiate a nationwide ban on the application on the lack of strong grounds, led to the return of the app. No strong legislation yet exists to regulate the use and content of such applications. However, incidents reported do raise concerns from academia.