TikTok’s “moment” has been longer than most – in fact, since it was launched for iOS and Android in 2017, it’s shot to international notoriety. Could it join Facebook and Instagram in the social media hall of fame, or is TikTok’s boom about to bust?
TikTok is a video-sharing social media platform owned by Chinese company ByteDance. It was initially released in 2016 as ‘Douyin’, but ByteDance replicated the app on a new server – buying out Musical.ly and renaming it ‘TIkTok’ – to comply with Chinese censorship restrictions in 2017.
Then came the global domination.
In 2018, TikTok was the most downloaded app in the US – the first Chinese app to do so. Now, it’s a permanent fixture on the smartphones of kids and teens everywhere.
Maybe it’s TikTok’s quirky video editing capabilities, or the fact that it fills the ‘Vine’-shaped hole that was left after the popular six-second video app shut down in 2016?
Whatever it is, TikTok is the launching pad for a new generation of internet stars – and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
TikTok for kids…
As far as hype-worthy apps go, TikTok has all the necessary ingredients.
User-generated content? Check. Self-deprecating humour? Check. The ability to completely confuse parents? Check, check, check.
Tech expert Jane Webster wrote all about TikTok back in the early days of its meteoric rise.
“This app is where kids are flocking to become known as not only awesome and creative content makers, but also to build an audience to position themselves as influencers,” says Jane. “This is rapidly becoming big business, not just overseas but here in Australia too.
“Interesting though, the majority of the people on TikTok who are there to just watch are a lot younger than the most popular content creators. This is where we need to be vigilant.”
Jane explains that TikTok isn’t all lip-syncing and prank videos – the content, songs and personalities can be wildly inappropriate, even for the app’s 13+ age restriction.
What’s more, TikTok’s ability – nay, encouragement – for your child to share videos of themselves can bring up a bevy of safety and security concerns, so it’s vital you set boundaries.
If your child has a TikTok account (it is possible for them to watch videos without one) make sure it is set to ‘Restricted Mode’ to limit content that may be inappropriate. You can also use in-app settings to limit screen time.
You can read more about that right here.
We’re not saying that everyone on TikTok is a predator – in fact, some of the app’s biggest stars are kids themselves.
What’s more, TikTok can be used for important social commentary and to spark positive change. Just a few days ago, on International Women’s Day, videos about female empowerment got the hashtag #shecandoit trending.
The best approach? Stay involved in the things your kids are doing online. It’s the best (and, if we’re being honest, only) way to make sure the content they are consuming is age-appropriate. Have access to their account, and check in regularly.
And with this (albeit brief) introduction to TikTok, you’ve taken the perfect first step.