Lesson plan; TikTok being banned on UK government phones

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify and explain the main reasons why TikTok is being banned on UK government phones
  • Analyze and evaluate different perspectives and opinions on this issue
  • Express their own views and arguments in a clear and respectful way
  • Use appropriate vocabulary, grammar and punctuation to write a persuasive letter or speech


  1. Warm-up: Ask students what they know about TikTok and why it is popular among young people. Elicit some examples of how they use it or what they watch on it. Ask them if they have heard about the ban on UK government phones and what they think about it.
  2. Reading/listening: Watch the video above and read this article from the BBC.  Give students the article or video about TikTok being banned on UK government phones and ask them to read or watch it carefully.
  3. Discussion: Divide students into groups of three or four and have them answer the questions below.
  • What is TikTok and what are its main features?
  • Why is TikTok being banned on UK government phones?
  • Who are some of the senior MPs who have called for the ban and what are their arguments?
  • How has TikTok responded to the allegations that it shares user data with the Chinese government?
  • What are some of the implications of the ban for users, businesses and international relations?
  • How does the UK’s approach to regulating TikTok compare with other countries such as the US, Canada and Australia?
  • What are some of the ethical issues and dilemmas that arise from using TikTok?
  1. Look at the list below on pros and cons and ask the students in groups to discuss each point and decide whether they agree or disagree with it. Encourage them to use evidence from the article or video to support their opinions.


  • Banning TikTok will protect sensitive information from being accessed or leaked by foreign actors who may pose a threat to national security or interests.
  • Banning TikTok will prevent government officials from being distracted or influenced by viral content that may not be accurate, appropriate or relevant for their work.
  • Banning TikTok will send a clear message to China that the UK does not tolerate any interference or violation of its sovereignty or values.


  • Banning TikTok will disappoint millions of users who enjoy using the app for personal or professional purposes and who may not trust other alternatives.
  • Banning TikTok will damage the relationship between the UK and China which is already strained by trade disputes, human rights issues and geopolitical tensions.
  • Banning TikTok will limit the opportunities for cultural exchange, creative expression and social engagement that the app provides.


  1. Ask students to choose one side of the argument (for or against banning TikTok) and write a persuasive letter or speech addressed to Mr Dowden, explaining why he should or should not ban TikTok on UK government phones. Remind them to use appropriate vocabulary, grammar and punctuation, as well as rhetorical devices such as facts, statistics, examples, anecdotes, quotes, etc. Look at some points below.
  2. Sharing: Ask some volunteers to read their letters or speeches aloud to the class. Give feedback on their content, language and delivery using the rubric.

The USA and TikTok

  • Joe Biden signed a spending bill into law that bans the use of TikTok by federal government employees on devices owned by its agencies, with limited exceptions for law enforcement, national security and security research purposes2.
  • Joe Biden demanded that TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance sell its stake in the app or face a ban in the US13. He also rejected a proposal by ByteDance to invest $1.5 billion in a plan called “Project Texas” that would enhance TikTok’s security and separate it from its parent company.
  • He supported a bill passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee that gives him the power to ban TikTok if he determines that it poses a threat to national security or foreign policy interests4.

These actions show that Joe Biden is taking a tough stance on TikTok and trying to protect US citizens’ privacy and security from potential foreign interference.

  • The UK is expected to ban TikTok from government phones over security fears and pressure from senior MPs123. The ban will not affect personal devices or public use of the app2.
  • The US has threatened to ban TikTok in the US unless its Chinese owner ByteDance sells its stake in it. The US has also banned TikTok from federal government devices as part of a spending bill signed by President Joe Biden.

Essay questions:

  • How does TikTok influence the culture and behavior of young people in the US and worldwide? Provide examples and evidence to support your argument.
  • What are the main challenges and opportunities that TikTok faces in the US market? Analyze the legal, political, economic and social factors that affect its operations and growth.
  • Compare and contrast TikTok with other social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. What are their similarities and differences regarding features, users, content and business models?
  • What are some of the ethical issues and dilemmas that arise from using TikTok? Discuss how they relate to privacy, security, censorship, misinformation and social responsibility.
  • How do the UK and the US differ in their approaches to regulating TikTok? Evaluate their reasons, methods and implications for users, businesses and international relations.

Advice on how to write persuasive essays

Some of the vocabulary, grammar and punctuation features that can make persuasive writing more effective are:

  • Using strong words that appeal to emotions or logic, such as “urgent”, “crucial”, “harmful”, “beneficial”, etc.
  • Using rhetorical questions that make the reader or listener think about your argument, such as “Do you want to live in a world where…?”, “How can we ignore this injustice?”, etc.
  • Using parallel structures that create rhythm and emphasis, such as “We must fight for our rights, for our freedom, for our future.”
  • Using modal verbs that express certainty or possibility, such as “must”, “should”, “can”, “could”, etc.
  • Using punctuation marks that convey tone and mood, such as exclamation points (!), question marks (?), dashes (-), commas (,), quotation marks (” “), etc.

Some possible questions you might have are:

  • How can I structure my persuasive writing?
  • How can I use evidence and examples to support my argument?
  • How can I address counterarguments and rebuttals in my persuasive writing?


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