Are TikTok’s Days Numbered? Breaking Down the Proposed TikTok Ban

By Rebecca Paredes
March 13, 2024
Friend recording a girl on smartphone

Welcome to Parent Pixels, a parenting newsletter filled with practical advice, news, and resources to support you and your kids in the digital age. This week:

  • Are the days of lip synching to trending songs coming to an end? We break down the proposed TikTok ban heading to a Senate vote.
  • Speaking of social media, have you changed your child’s privacy settings on Instagram? We share tips to make your child’s Instagram account safer.
  • 44% of teens say they feel anxious without their smartphones, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Digital Parenting

Inside the proposed TikTok ban

Today, the House overwhelmingly voted to pass a bill that would effectively ban TikTok in the United States. The bill now heads to the Senate, where its future is less certain. The measure, H.R. 7521, would ban applications controlled by foreign adversaries of the United States that pose a clear national security risk. 

For years, US officials have dubbed TikTok a national security threat. China’s intelligence laws could enable Beijing to snoop on the user information TikTok collects. Although the US government has not publicly presented evidence that the Chinese government has accessed TikTok user data, the House vote was preceded by a classified briefing on national security concerns about TikTok's Chinese ownership.

If H.R. 7521 is passed, ByteDance will have 165 days to sell TikTok. Failure to do so would make it illegal for TikTok to be available for download in U.S. app stores. On the day of the vote, TikTok responded with a full-screen pop-up that prompted users to dial their members of Congress and express their opposition to the bill. In a post on X, TikTok shared: “This will damage millions of businesses, deny artists an audience, and destroy the livelihoods of countless creators across the country.”

"It is not a ban,” said Representative Mike Gallagher, the Republican chairman of the House select China committee. “Think of this as a surgery designed to remove the tumor and thereby save the patient in the process."

The bottom line: The bill passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously, which means legislators from both parties supported the bill. Reuters calls this the “most significant momentum for a U.S. crackdown on TikTok … since then President Donald Trump unsuccessfully tried to ban the app in 2020.” The TikTok legislation's fate is less certain in the Senate. If the bill clears Congress, though, President Biden has already indicated that he would sign it.

If your child uses TikTok, it’s natural that they may have questions about the ban (especially if they dream of becoming a TikTok influencer). Nothing is set in stone, and it’s entirely possible that TikTok would simply change ownership. However, this is a good opportunity to chat with your kids about the following talking points:

  • It’s true that social media can be entertaining and educational. 
  • But social media companies can buy and sell your data, use algorithms to change your opinions about topics, and design their apps to make you spend more time using them.
  • We elect representatives to represent us. That’s why it’s important to vote, stay informed about current events, and think critically about the information you consume.

Practical Parenting Tips

Is Instagram safe for kids? A parent’s guide to safety recommendations

Set your child’s account to private, limit who can message them, and limit reposts and mentions. With a few simple steps, you can make Instagram a safer place for your kid. Here’s how to get it done.

How to talk to your child about sending inappropriate text messages

Yikes — you found out that your child has been sending concerning videos, images, or messages to someone else. We break down some of the reasons kids send inappropriate messages and how to approach them.

What’s Catching Our Eye

🏛️ An update on Florida’s social media ban: as expected, Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill that would have banned minors from using social media, but signaled that he would sign a different version anticipated from the Florida legislature.

📵 Nearly three-quarters (72%) of U.S. teens say they feel happy or peaceful when they don’t have their smartphones — but 44% say they feel anxious without them, according to Pew Research Center.

📖 Do digital books count as screen time? The benefits of reading outweigh screen time exposure, according to experts.

🗺️ How can parents navigate the challenges of technology and social media? Set limits, help your child realize how much time they spend on tech, and model self-restraint. Check out these tips and more via Psychology Today.

Parent Pixels is a biweekly newsletter filled with practical advice, news, and resources to support you and your kids in the digital age. Want this newsletter delivered to your inbox a day early? Subscribe here.

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