Sexual education videos created with a short video-making app According to the researchers, TikTok is not screened for misinformation and does not provide teenagers and adolescents with a proper understanding of the sensitive subject.
While some obstetricians, gynaecologists, and other health care professionals have actively participated in TikTok as popular content creators, providing science-based content and answering questions posed by other users, the vast amount of content available on TikTok makes responding to all misinformation impractical.
“There is no guarantee a user will ever encounter these corrective videos,” the study authors from Johns Hopkins University and University of Houston in the US, wrote.
To better understand this, the team conducted a content analysis of themes for 100 TikTok sex education-focused videos.
“We found that female anatomy was the most frequently addressed topic. Sexual pleasure was the second most common theme, within which discussions of the female orgasm and arousal constituted the most common sub theme,” said Stephanie Morain from the Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Contraception and sexual health are two other common themes.
“Our findings suggest several areas where traditional sexual education approaches may not be meeting adolescents’ informational needs,” said Leah Fowler from the University of Houston.
The researchers concluded with recommendations for future research, including “determining how exposure to this content affects adolescents’ understanding of the risks and benefits of intercourse, sexual practises, age-and gender-based sexual norms, and other health behaviours.”
TikTok recently surpassed a billion monthly users globally.
It also surpassed tech behemoth Google as the year’s most popular website. According to Cloudflare, an IT security company, the viral video app receives more hits than the US-based search engine.