Alright guys, I’m here to answer the question, “What’s the deal with TikTok?”
Although the hype is extra loud right now, this app has actually been around for a few years! It merged with the existing app called musical.ly, and is the 7th most downloaded mobile app of the past decade. I want to start by saying I am in NO way sponsored by TikTok, just a fan and user! I’m also NOT here to convert you to use the app. I just want to answer some of the questions I keep getting asked and share what I have learned from my experience!
WHAT EXACTLY IS TIKTOK?
TikTok is a video-sharing service that allows social networking worldwide. It’s content creation capabilities include lip-syncing, dancing, and other talent-sharing videos under 15 seconds.
WHO IS USING IT?
When I first started exploring the app, I was expecting to only see teenage users. I was pleasantly surprised to see videos from ALL ages! (One of my favorite accounts is a senior couple rocking some popular dances!) The age requirement is at least 13 years old, and anyone under 18 must have the approval of a parent or guardian. My husband and I have chosen to not let our kids use social media until they are at least 14, but that is a personal decision that looks different for every family!
WHY THE BAD REP?
My most frequently asked questions about TikTok surround its reputation of being “unsafe” “uncensored” and “inappropriate.” I shared on my Insta stories (and saved in my highlights for ya!) my approach to this. Basically, YES, TikTok is experiencing growing pains, much like other social media apps have, and there is a good amount of not-so-good content–mainly bad language and suggestive music/dancing. I will say from my experience, for every 1 questionable video, there are dozens of wonderful ones!
WHAT’S BEING DONE:
They have set clear community standards to protect kids, and they are actively cleaning up content. I’ve already seen a major improvement from when I first downloaded it a few months ago, but it has a ways to go! With the exponential growth TikTok is experiencing, I believe they will continually improve censoring efforts to maintain users. When you encounter an inappropriate video that you’d rather not see, you can hold and tap, and the option will pop up to select ‘Not Interested’. You can also select ‘More’ and specifically hide that user or hide all videos with this sound. Another way to clean up your feed is to favorite hashtags that will help the algorithm learn what you would like to see more of, and connect you with likeminded people. Some hashtags that I love are: #momlife, #momprenuer, #momsontiktok, #90skids, #over30club, #goodcleanfun, #tiktokteachers, and #churchofjesuschrist. The more you use the app and take these steps to personalize it, the better your user experience will be!
HOW TO MAKE IT SAFER:
One thing I love about TikTok is its privacy settings. Not only can you set your profile to private, but you can also make it so no other users can duet with you (do a side-by-side video along with you) or comment on your videos. And best of all, no one can message you unless YOU follow THEM–this is even stricter than Instagram! I am a huge advocate for teaching our kids online safety. To put it bluntly, there are predators everywhere on the internet, especially social media apps. It’s SO important for us to be vigilant and open with our children to help them navigate the online world when they are ready to take part in it.
WHAT ARE THE POSITIVES?
TikTok is unlike any other app I’ve used. It’s given us a new and different way to create! Justin and I have SUCH a blast learning new dances together and coming up with our own videos that reflect our personalities. It has also allowed us to make connections with others. I’ve bonded with new friends through videos, as well as in person, and Justin even performed the “Renegade” routine at school with some of his students in the halls!
I have always believed that when there is darkness somewhere, it wins if we all run away. I don’t operate from scare tactics, I like to think of what good there can be. What if we brought MORE LIGHT, MORE LOVE and MORE FUN to this awesome app by creating good clean content there!? Its FUN guys, I love it!
When/If you decide to let your kids on TikTok, I would make sure you walk them through set up, remind them the importance of creating content online that it can’t be erased permanently ever, and what to do if they see inappropriate content, etc- because, at the end of the day, we have to empower our kids to make good decisions online – just like everywhere else!
I hope I’ve given you some more insight into the world of TikTok. It’s exciting to see the growth and possibilities that are happening because of it! It’s definitely not for everyone, and that is perfectly okay! The decision is always yours. The most important thing is that we are being INTENTIONAL with our time and with our social media use.