Prioritising safety over clicks: How TikTok creator Ming Wei wants youths to think before acting out online challenges

Through educational videos and a hashtag campaign, the local content creator is working together with the digital platform to encourage younger community members to navigate social media safely

Content creator Ming Wei and his father, who are known for their light-hearted videos on TikTok, are active advocates of online safety. PHOTO: NG MING WEI PHOTO: NG MING WEI

It may have been almost nine years ago now, but the challenge is still familiar to many: A video of someone pouring a bucket of ice-cold water on themselves, then reading out the names of three friends as they dry themselves off, shivering. 

This was 2014’s Ice Bucket Challenge – a viral online challenge that raised US$220 million (S$290 million) for the ALS Association to further research into a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

However, some challenges may not be entirely positive, and have resulted in physical harm.

Says TikTok content creator Ng Ming Wei: "Many young people find appeal in taking part in challenges because they hope to go viral by riding on trends.

"While many are harmless fun, some challenges have an element of risk to them, and it's important for young people to be able to tell when something is too dangerous."

For Ming Wei, safety takes priority, no matter how fun or popular the challenge is. The 28-year-old and his father, Mr Cedric Ng, are behind the TikTok accounts mingweirocks and daddyming respectively. The duo are known for light-hearted videos of them pranking each other, and have over 30 million followers on TikTok collectively.

“Before taking part in any trends, I would always take a step back to assess the video concept as a whole. If I were to come across trends that perpetuate negativity or harmful actions, I would choose never to engage in them, to avoid promoting such dangerous acts to my viewers,” he adds. 

Both Ngs play a key role in promoting TikTok’s #thinkb4youdo campaign that is supported by the Media Literacy Council. It is aimed at encouraging TikTok community members to be mindful of their physical safety by learning how to identify potentially harmful challenges.

“Being a part of the #thinkb4youdo campaign gave me the opportunity to spread a positive message through my style of content. I’ve always wanted to use my platform to spread more positive messages, and if my participation in the campaign had helped prevent at least one person from making rash and wrong decisions, then I am beyond elated,” Ming Wei shares. 

“As a dad, I am naturally protective not just towards my children, but also other youths on the platform. While I’m unable to warn all of them to be more wary, taking part in the #thinkb4youdo campaign felt like a good step to begin with. It feels almost like second nature to remind my audience – don’t forget to #thinkb4youdo anything, be it online or offline,” says Mr Cedric Ng.

“Community members can create a safe community by choosing to withhold sharing potentially dangerous and harmful content, and to participate in trends that will spread positivity instead,” adds Ming Wei.

Parents have a pivotal role to play

As young community members seek support from authority figures about navigating potentially harmful content, it is healthy to maintain an open dialogue with them about what they see online. 

“While youths may not be able to identify the risks or potentially harmful effects of certain trends, sharing their feelings about certain trends with others could help identify and prevent further spreading of harmful content,” shares Ming Wei.

Even though the elder Ng’s children are all adults, it doesn’t shake the innate need to protect his children, whether it’s online or off. “As a parent, I’ll always have that protective side to me,” he says.

He encourages parents to have open conversations about the type of content their kids are consuming online, without prying and being invasive.

“For me, asking questions like ‘Have you seen anything interesting on TikTok recently?’ or ‘What are some fun trends going around on TikTok now?’ helped to spark conversations with my kids, and keeps me updated on the content they are exposed to online.”

Shares Ming Wei: “I appreciate being able to have open and transparent conversations with my father about the content we put online. Our relationship has strengthened as we learn and grow together not only as father and son, but also as creators. Our goals online are similar, and having these goals aligned makes the working process much more enjoyable for both of us.”

TikTok is working towards creating a welcoming environment where everyone feels safe and comfortable. Visit TikTok’s Digital Wellness Hub to find out more about tools that can help enhance you and your teen’s experience on the platform.

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