The Wiggles under fire for going on TikTok
Exclusive: Popular children's group The Wiggles has shocked cyber safety experts by creating an official TikTok account, which already has tens of thousands of followers.
The move has concerned some leading online safety authorities who say the popular video sharing platform, which experts say is used by predators, has an age limit of 13 and over.
"Even unintentionally, this is encouraging the underage use of TikTok which is known to be a dangerous app," said qualified cyber safety expert Susan McLean
"Children entertainers or anyone that pitches to children have a moral and ethical responsibility to encourage safe behaviour on and off line.
"Any paedophile around the world knows The Wiggles are a kid entertainment group so they will know if they are on TikTok, little children will be on TikTok as well."
A quick scroll through The Wiggles followers shows a number children who appear to be underage, many with their own, open accounts.
TikTok has an easy messaging facility that makes it attractive to paedophiles.
The Wiggles official account was only set up recently and has more than 190,000 followers and one video, by Emma Wiggle doing the popular Renegade dance, has gone viral.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) told News Corp Australia predators are using social media chat sites to groom young people.
"(We) regularly see cases involving children and young people being targeted by online child sex offenders through social networking, image or video sharing apps or instant messaging to self-produce online child sexual exploitation material," a spokesperson said.
"Police have also seen instances of offenders targeting parents or carers for access to children through social media. Parents or carers being offered free products, or their children being asked to model clothing, are some of the means being used to groom their children."
Kirra Pendergast from Safe on Social Media only this week had an incident involving a 10-year-old girl who was moved over from popular gaming site Roblox to TikTok.
"They move them across platforms, in this case the little girl started following them on TikTok and they started messaging some really inappropriate stuff.
"This is the kind of thing that parents need to step up and see."
Ms Pendergast let loose in a Facebook post this week, after a particularly disturbing incident.
"Those of us that work as Cyber Safety educators do not try and scare you for fun or be fear mongers, but sometimes we need to have tough conversations. Unfortunately, a lot of you are not listening. We are trying to keep your kids safe (and you) the only way we can do that is if you step up and support the work that we do and practice it at home," she wrote.
Australia's eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said "nothing can substitute for supervision, and staying involved in your children's online lives".
"Platforms like TikTok and YouTube are intermingled sites where children congregate but there is often adult content not suitable for children," she said.
"You wouldn't send your child to a Wiggles concert alone, even though you know it's going to be a wonderful experience. Why on earth would you leave them alone to roam the badlands of the internet?"
Paul Field, Managing Director of The Wiggles, said the account was directed at parents and older Wiggles fans.
"Like all our social media platforms, our content is always family friendly and the audience and controllers of these social platforms are the parents and carers. It is another fun platform for parents to see a different side of us and for those that grew up with The Wiggles to see how the band has evolved since they were little."
Executive Director at eChildhood Tamara Newlands said people don't realise that pornography is also "rife on TikTok."
"As a platform it allows strangers to direct message young children and share inappropriate content. When we've received calls from parents, it's not always 'my child was shown porn by an older kid on the bus', it is also 'my child was sent porn from a stranger on TikTok, how do I stop this?'
TikTok is not a platform that is safe for young kids.''