With so many social networks to keep track of, it's not surprising if your kid's obsession with the TikTok app leaves you scratching your head. So what is it exactly?
TikTok is a free social media app that lets you watch, create, and share videos -- often to a soundtrack of the top hits in music -- right from your phone. With more than 100 million users in the United States alone, TikTok has innovative video-editing features, viral dances, and celebrity cameos that make it incredibly popular. And though the app has generated controversy, it can be a fun, creative outlet for tweens and teens (and parents!) when used safely and responsibly.
How can tiktok be dangerous or harmful?
Addiction: Since the app boasts an “endless stream” of material, students are likely to spend a long time in the app and might even become addicted to watching the videos for hours at a time.
Bullying: A high school principal in New York tells Smart Social Founder Josh Ochs that students are being bullied on TikTok. Some students are making fun of each other’s videos, while others are making videos just to ridicule their fellow students.
Comparison: Some students make outrageous, and even dangerous, videos to get more likes and followers. Hashtag challenges are an easy way to gain likes, but some of the challenges are not appropriate for tweens and teens.
Safety Concerns: Apps like TikTok can easily be used by predators to solicit minors because the app makes it easy for strangers to direct message children. “There are no restrictions as to who can join the app and it is used internationally, connecting virtually everyone,” explained Digital Family Expert Theresa Desuyo, at the parental control software company Qustodio.
Mental Health: Some experts report it can be easy to come across triggering content on the app that could promote issues like self-harm or eating disorders.
TikTok is a fun and creative outlet for users to post dance compilations, tell funny jokes, and show off their talents. But some of the content users post can contain explicit language, suggestive themes, and lewd gestures.
Smart Social recommends using the app’s Family Pairing feature and talking with your students about safe and smart social media practices, if you allow them to use the TikTok app.