Ontario could ban TikTok in public schools, Lecce says

By Lucas Casaletto

One day after the province announced a ban of the social media platform TikTok on government-operated devices, Ontario’s education minister said they’re considering doing the same in public schools.

Stephen Lecce was asked about the possibility at a press conference in Mississauga, admitting that officials are perturbed about the impact TikTok has on children.

“That is a decision point I expect we will communicate on,” Lecce said. “We obviously share a very profound concern about the privacy impacts for young people.”

When it comes to those specific effects on younger people, a Dec. 2022 study by the non-profit Center for Countering Digital Hate found that TikTok could surface potentially harmful content related to suicide and eating disorders to teenagers within minutes of them creating an account.

That study also revealed that the app suggested videos about body image and mental health roughly every 39 seconds within 30 minutes.

“I am concerned by what is happening in schools with the proliferation of this technology,” Lecce added. “For the mental health and physical health of children… it’s something we’re looking at.”

On Thursday, cities and police services across Ontario indicated they are following the federal government’s lead in banning TikTok from work and government-owned devices, while others consider such bans as privacy watchdogs assess the video-sharing platform for threats.

The federal government banned TikTok from government-owned devices earlier this week after the chief information officer said it has an “unacceptable” level of risk to privacy and security.

Ontario was the last province to announce its decision, with all of the other provinces making the move in recent days.

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