It’s actually forbidden – and yet surprisingly present: On social media platforms like TikTok and Facebook but also in messengers like WhatsApp and Telegram there is a drug scene in which some very young users are active.
Illegal drugs are finding their way into the public domain via social media platforms like TikTok. Under corresponding hashtags, the popular short video app features videos of users talking about their own drug use or showing it live. This goes from weed and mushrooms to meth, MDMA or heroin. According to both Germanyouth media protection laws and the platforms’ community rules, such videos are prohibited. Some videos come from children and young people who get encouragement for their behavior via likes and comments.
Social media has not only made the topic of drugs itself more visible. It may also be easier to find the drugs themselves via websites or groups, if contact can be made with dealers there.
The problem with this drug scene, which is just a click away: the colorful images, the fun depicted, the feeling of being in a group of like-minded people, as well as unifying elements like the music initially seem inviting. Often drug use is trivialized in the videos, experiments are praised and supported by other users. This can create a completely false image of drug use as recreational fun among adolescents. Children and young people in particular, who are looking for support and confirmation, can easily be attracted to such content.
It can be problematic that platforms often suggest similar videos to their users again with the help of algorithms. This can make topics that you deal with more and more present.
According to the community guidelines, such videos are of course not permitted – neither consumption and glorification nor the sale of drugs on the platforms. TikTok therefore blocks obvious hashtags or deletes posts and groups if they are noticed or reported. However, not all newly invented hashtags can always be blocked immediately.
In terms of both media and drug use, the golden road is a trusting relationship and open communication. Stay in touch with your child and show interest in them and their media use. In the best case, you will notice early on if your child encounters questionable content or has questions or problems. Then you can find a way to deal with it together.
If your child is still very young, you can also control his or her media use technically – for example, with the help of the accompanied mode on TikTok.
If you feel your child is changing, has mental health issues, or may already be in contact with drugs, there are several steps you can take: