Parents warned over TikTok trend for hackers to disrupt remote lessons

Camilla Turner
·2 min read
tiktok - Chris Delmas/AFP
tiktok - Chris Delmas/AFP

Schools have been warned of a TikTok trend for children to be asked for their remote lesson login details so that hackers can disrupt classes.

Headteachers have written to parents, at the request of Scotland Yard, to make them aware of the issue which has the potential to undermine learning during lockdown.

Parents have been warned of this “new trend”, which is popular among youngsters.

This involves TikTok users encouraging children to give them their remote lesson login details so they can disrupt lessons and make rude comments about teachers. They then film the disruption and post it on TikTok with hashtags such as “#lockoff”.

Headteachers condemned the trend for “mindless and wilful disruption” of online lessons during lockdown.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “No doubt it is sold to pupils as a hilarious prank but teachers face enough challenge in the day-to-day delivery of online learning without the prospect of interruption by individuals with apparently nothing better to do with their time.”

He said he urged pupils to resist the temptation to get involved in such pranks, and also urged TikTok to “act swiftly” to identify those concerned and ban them from their platform as soon as possible.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “Remote learning is an extremely valuable resource in difficult times to continue to educate children.

“The Met was made aware of this issue, and in response, Safer Schools Officers have advised their schools and teaching staff to reinforce messages around online privacy to their students to keep them safe.

“Parents can refer to the social media platform security advice about their children staying safe online and report any similar incidents to the police.”

Research published by the Sutton Trust earlier this week found that children have been doing more than double the amount of schoolwork at home during this period of school closures compared to last spring.

The proportion of primary pupils doing more than five hours of learning a day rose from 11 per cent to 23 per cent, and for secondary students it increased from 19 per cent to 45 per cent.

A Teacher Tapp poll of more than 6,000 teachers found that 54 per cent are now using online live lessons compared to just four per cent in March.

However, the gap between private and state schools has widened, with 86 per cent of teachers in private schools now using online live lessons compared to 50 per cent in state schools.

A TikTok spokesperson said: "The safety of our community is our top priority and any content that encourages anti-social behaviour is not acceptable on TikTok. Our investigation found a handful of videos of this nature - all have been removed for violating our community guidelines and we'll continue to take action against similar content wherever required."