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What is Fintok and how it can mislead Teens?

Apart from bringing entertainment to viewers through dancing, lip-syncing, comedic skits and the use of various filters, there is another rising realm within this growing Tiktok community. Conveniently tagged as FinTok or StockTok, these are where users post about financial tips and pieces of advice to the public. The short duration of each video works in favour of the creators, as it makes such dry content much more digestible and most of the time, lighthearted. Topics covered by these videos range from money hacks, definitions of big economic terms, to weekly stocks and investment picks. Although being exposed to financial knowledge at a young age is great, the many unfiltered financial contents can also cause misconceptions in younger users. Here are the reasons why!

1. Creators may not be Experts

Creators giving their advice may not be financially qualified and instead just expressing their personal opinion on what works for them! Moreover, not all tips and tricks are all-embracing, especially for people who want an easy way out. Content creators are now composed of people of various ages, backgrounds with limited requirements to upload content. Heck, you could even be taught financial advice from a 13-year-old! With such a low barrier of entry to content creation, many may jump on whichever bandwagon is HYPED in the present to create content they do not know much about just to receive more viewership. With everyone trying to jump on this trend to post the same content, it could be difficult to find content posted by people with actual knowledge and understanding of financial literacy. As a result, viewers may just be looking at superficial content made with the target of “click-baiting” them and not with actual tips to help them. Besides, inaccurate or misleading content put up is currently not regulated under TikTok because it is not a violation of their community guidelines.

2. FinTok can create a false sense of “Expertise”

Watching FinTok may give viewers a false sense of “Expertise”. Most financial content with high viewership is usually created by people that have found success themselves, and are sharing their success strategies and story with the world. But what the world DOESN’T know is the multitude of failed attempts at using the exact tips and tricks these creators are putting out. Hence, viewers might gullibly believe that this is a fool-proof strategy and that watching the video gives them the recipe for building up their wealth quickly. Compared to other social media, Tiktok also has one of the best algorithms, allowing videos to be viral at the fastest rate. This means that a misleading video could be spread much quicker, causing misconceptions to more users.

Viewers may also gain a false sense of expertise when they scroll through a topic multiple times, thinking that they have completely mastered the concept. A viewer may have limited impressions of a cryptocurrency after scrolling through a video advocating its benefits. However, watching other FinToks sharing about their purchase on that cryptocurrency twice, thrice, and multiple times can influence him to think that he has fully understood this cryptocurrency and it will be an informed decision if he buys into it. Yet, this may not be true and he is advised to do more research before following the crowd’s opinion.

3. Information Overload

We can all agree that having limited information about finances and money is all in the past. We now suffer from the problem of information overload, in which we are continuously bombarded with new perspectives every minute and second. This makes it difficult for us to carefully assess and evaluate the validity of each comment, and cumulatively this can form misconceptions in our heads! One moment you may be streaming the video on the potential growth of Stock A and the next second, you may be fed with another video that has the opposite sentiments. If you look up the hashtag for Stock A, you will also find a lot more different opinions about it. All these bits and pieces of information can be too overwhelming for younger viewers to process and even review. The abundance of information may leave them being more confused and may give them the idea that money topics are way more difficult than it seems, tough and stressful. Instead of helping the younger viewers to get started with finance, FinTok may in turn make them more fearful of finance and adulting!

Although the FinTok community in Singapore is still relatively small, we must be prepared for the time when teenagers habitually seek financial advice through TikTok. FinTok can be an excellent tool to open doors to teenagers who want to learn more about financial literacy, but they cannot stop right here and just absorb all the advice without further research. One simple tip is that there is no get-rich-overnight financial strategy, so if you come across such content, it is probably too good to be true. Thus, like all advice, just take it with a pinch of salt or follow them at your own risk!


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