Sing, lip-synch, and share videos; watch for iffy content.
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What’s It About?
TIKTOK is a lively social network built around creating, sharing, and searching for user-made music videos. People can upload videos that are 10 minutes long or less of themselves singing, lip-synching, dancing, or performing some kind of stunt. Ongoing challenges spur users to create content related to a particular theme, and users can integrate their own videos with another user's with the Duet feature. Simple stickers, filters, and augmented reality (AR) animations can be added to videos, and users can livestream themselves and interact directly with online audiences via chat. They can also set their videos to private or share them publicly. Videos that are public can be viewed, commented upon, or remixed by other users. Creators can determine exactly which comments are published, if they choose. An in-app store lets users purchase currency that can be used to buy digital "gift" icons for their favorite livestreamers. If users who are under 13 enter their real birth date, their level of access will be less, and they won't be able to post or comment.
Is It Any Good?
With nifty features for finding, sharing, and remixing videos from other users, there's terrific potential for this to be an inclusive, creative social space. That being said, because TikTok's content features popular music, lyrics can contain swearing and sexual references, and parents have reported finding explicit sexual content and content referencing self-harm. Initially, TikTok videos could be only 15 seconds long, but TikTok has changed the length restriction a number of times. Currently, users can post 10-minute clips. Numerous brief videos are still available in the app, though, involving topics such as comedy, games, food, sports, pets, and ASMR. Videos you create and share can be customized with special effects and filters. The editing tool allows you to trim and duplicate videos, and you can also add tunes by choosing from a library of free music selections, ranging from hip-hop to country. Videos can also include sound effects. Kids can locate things to watch several ways, including by entering a term and seeing a list of related hashtag phrases, users, and sounds.
With a massive amount of content to potentially view, the amount of hours kids can end up spending on TikTok is one of the app's biggest detriments. Time limits can be set on younger users' accounts, however, and a Restricted mode helps (but may not totally prevent) kids from finding inappropriate content. The Family Pairing feature gives parents even more control -- which is a plus when it comes to social media apps. Some privacy and safety features are built into kids' accounts. They're set to private by default if a user is age 13 to 15, for instance, and only people they approve can follow and view their videos. But if you're 16 or older, your account will automatically be made public. Certain safety features also prevent kids who are under 16 from having their videos combined with a video from another person, called duetting. Other users also can't stitch your video, which involves using part of it in theirs. Those settings can't be changed. You have to be 16 or older to livestream and use direct messaging -- although even if you are, your DM setting will be "No One" by default. Creators can control which comments go live on their videos, as well. Commenters might see a pop-up box suggesting they rethink a statement that's been identified as possibly being inappropriate, based on keywords. Users also have to be 18 and older to buy, send, and receive virtual gifts. The Privacy and Safety settings aren't infallible, though, because kids could potentially pretend they are older by entering a false birth date when they register. The various restrictions may take much of the fun out of the app for some kids. Still, for those 16 and up who can better handle the mature content, it can be an enjoyable diversion, provided fame doesn't become an obsession, and using the app doesn't take up too much of their time. The general idea behind this social media network has promise -- but with so many features, teens should adjust TikTok's privacy settings before using it, just to be safe.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about family rules for privacy and social networks like TikTok. Talk about when it's OK to share information and what kind of information should be kept private. What are your rules around your kid using TikTok? Can your kid share videos publicly, or only with friends?
Before downloading TikTok, discuss your family's rules around profanity and sexual references in music. What are your teens allowed to listen to? What kinds of videos can they post?
Talk about songs that might be fun to lip-synch to and how you can get creative with that 15-second time limit for videos. Think about what kinds of movements or dance might work well within that time frame.
If your kids are interested in creating their own videos, it's worth talking about the fact that anything posted to the internet never really goes away. Content that was funny or a joke at one time sometimes can come back to haunt you.
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: January 14, 2016
- Category: Social Networking
- Topics: Music and Sing-Along
- Publisher: BYTEMOD PTE.Ltd
- Version: 8.0.1
- Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 9.0 or later; Android 4.1 and up
- Last updated: October 8, 2021
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