Parents warned 'fake' TikTok vaping accounts followed by half a million users
Does your teenager use TikTok?
While vaping rates among under-18s remain relatively low, with retailers regulating the sale of products, popular vaping brands are advertised and made available via fake social media sellers.
Retailers have cautioned that this could also lead to counterfeit and potentially dangerous products.
Parents are being urged to educate their children on the dangers associated with illegal vaping product sellers.
They are also being encouraged to learn more about TikTok, so they can reduce the number of young children being introduced to vaping by the platform.
Yet even though TikTok now makes accounts for users aged 13-15 private by default, young people are looking for ways to get around this.
Using Google and YouTube, more than 1,900 people per month search for how to change their age on TikTok. Globally, this figure rises to 10,000 people per month.
Speaking on the issue, Dan Marchant, director at the UK’s largest online vaping retailer, Vape Club, said;
"It’s worrying that there are so many fake social media accounts posing as retailers.
Not only will unscrupulous people sell vaping products to underage users this way, but the products themselves might not even be genuine. Worse still, these fake products could be dangerous.
Reputable sellers have safeguards in place to ensure that children can’t buy vaping products. For instance, we conduct full digital age verification on every new customer before we allow an order to go out the door."
Jo Barry, mother of a 14-year-old boy who has tried vaping pens, had this advice for parents;
"If you catch your children vaping or are suspicious that they might be vaping with their friends, you should sit them down to explain the risks.
If they have a sudden interest in talking about vaping, then have an honest and open conversation about the dangers involved with fake sellers advertising products through social media.
To curb illegal purchases, parents might also want to limit any pocket money they give to their children, or make an extra effort to see how their pocket money is being spent. They could casually ask their children how they plan to spend it or discreetly keep track of their children’s purchases.
As TikTok is a relatively new platform, I’d also advise parents to download the app to gain a better understanding of how their children could be interacting with other people."