Move over, Instagram. There’s a social media app that’s taking teen screen time to a new level. It’s called TikTok, and its popularity is growing by the second (we couldn’t resist the pun).
TikTok is a social media platform that allows users to post and share short-form videos of 60 seconds or less. The app has been downloaded nearly 1 billion times, which is on par with Instagram. An estimated 60 percent of its users are 16 to 24 years old.
We spoke with a group of Dragons and polled our student body on Instagram to get more feedback about TikTok and to compare it to other social media tools popular with teens.
In our discussion, one group shared they felt TikTok is more "community-oriented and allows them to post free of judgment." When asked how Instagram stacks up to TikTok, these students agreed that the focus of Instagram is popularity, with followers being more judgemental of content. As a result, Instagram feels more serious, private, and professional as students carefully create and curate their posted photos. TikTok? Relatable and fun.
That said, the majority of Dragons don’t post content on TikTok and only use it to view videos from other users. In an Instagram Story poll, 46 percent of respondents said they had a TikTok account, but 81 percent of those with an account only use it to view content on the platform.
When asked why they didn’t post any content on TikTok, several cited privacy concerns related to having their face appear online. One student noted that TikTok has doesn’t support LBGTQ+ rights and attempt to ban related content, referring to the company allowing certain countries to censor content on the app.
Others said they prefer to be consumers of content instead of creators. And as one student said, “TikTok is a constant stream of content.”
That content ranges from funny snippets of pets to comedy bits, dance videos, lip-syncing to songs, and DIY tutorials. And of late, as our Dragons noticed, politics. The Wall Street Journal recently reported about the potential spread of misinformation ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Whether a consumer or a creator of content, we always recommend our Dragon community stay informed about the social media apps they are using. We’re sharing these five things to know about TikTok:
The Basics: TikTok is a free app for users who are 13 and older. Those who have used the app may notice some of its features resemble another app called Musical.ly; the platforms were merged after TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, acquired Musical.ly.
Account: You don’t need an account to view content, but having an account lets you customize who you follow. The more accounts you follow, the deeper you will fall in the rabbit hole of time watching videos.
Privacy settings: Accounts can be public or private. If private, users approve who follows their content, who can post comments, and who can contact them. That said, news outlets reported in early January that the app could have significant security flaws that could cause accounts to be hacked.
Virtual Currency: Users who are 18 and older can purchase virtual coins to pay for emojis and diamonds, which are used as gifts to thank other users.
Digital Wellbeing: This feature allows users to set screen time limits, where the app then requires a passcode once the time limit is reached. Users can also block inappropriate content from their stream. A passcode can also be set.
As with any social media app, we encourage open conversations with your Dragons about online safety, privacy, and security; the responsible use of apps; and managing their digital footprint.