TikTok Stars You Should Know About
A year ago, Charli d'Amelio was just a regular teen. Now she might be your kid's favorite celebrity on the planet thanks to the massively popular video-sharing app TikTok. The platform makes it easy for everyday people to go viral and gain a following (even though their appeal may not be completely obvious to parents). Though plenty of legit celebs like Cardi B. and J. Lo post TikToks, they too are often emulating the viral challenges made popular by teens like Charli. So if you don't have TikTok, you probably have no idea who your kid is watching.
As with all social media, there are pros and cons to letting your kid use the app and follow these rising stars. While most of what you come across is more fun than worrisome, tweens and teens can easily fall prey to the same social-media pressure they feel on other platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. Your kid may compare themselves with the pretty, popular people they see on the app. Or they might try dangerous stunts to go viral in the hopes of joining their ranks. But TikTok offers account-management tools that other social apps don't, including parental controls and a special experience for kids under 13, so you can limit kids' time on the app and exposure to mature videos. And though TikTok has been criticized for demoting videos with non-White, disabled, and overweight creators, it says it plans to elevate more diverse creators in users' personal feeds. To mitigate the risks, watch videos together when you can, talk about them, and maybe even try a viral challenge as a family.
Check out our "who's who" of the TikTok scene for a glimpse into the silly, social world of online videos, as well as the creators capturing the hearts (and eyeballs) of kids everywhere. And for more info, check out the Parents' Ultimate Guide to TikTok.
Charli d'Amelio, @charlidamelio
What's she known for? With more than 70 million followers, teen dancer and choreographer Charli d'Amelio is currently the most popular person on TikTok (as well as on Famous Birthdays, a site that ranks social media influencers). She and her older sister Dixie (an influencer in her own right) were members of the Hype House, a mansion/creator collective of young, attractive influencers, but left because it felt like too much of a business.
Claim to fame: Although she rose steadily in popularity, she rocketed to the top of the charts with her renditions of the "Renegade" dance, created by internet celeb Jalaiah Harmon.
What parents should know: Watch out for some swearing and racy dance moves in some of her videos. She also had a very public relationship and breakup with Chase Hudson (below).
Addison Rae Easterling, @addisonre
What's she known for? One of the most popular influencers on the platform, Addison Rae uses her competitive dancing background to make videos with friends in the Hype House.
Claim to fame: Fans (including Mariah Carey, who responded to a video featuring her song, "Obsessed") love Addison Rae's videos dancing with her mom, Sheri.
What parents should know: Expect to see racy dance moves and revealing outfits from Addison Rae, as well as song clips with swearing. She has also been romantically attached to several other high-profile influencers, including Bryce Hall.
Avani Gregg, @avani
What's she known for? While most of the influencers on this list are most often seen dancing, Avani Gregg is better known for her makeup and beauty videos -- though she also posts plenty of dance videos, as well as comedy, lip synchs, and more.
Claim to fame: Her first viral video involved giving herself a creepy clown makeover, so now her nickname is "Clown Girl."
What parents should know: Like many TikTokers on this list, Avani uses sound clips with strong language and sometimes wears revealing clothes. Her videos also have lots of ads for makeup and other products.
Bryce Hall, @brycehall
What's he known for? Partly because he's one of the leaders of the edgy, all-male creator compound the Sway House, and partly because he's dated several other high-profile influencers, Bryce Hall is now one of the most-followed TikTokers on the platform. His content is full of pranks, partying, feuds, and diss tracks (songs or raps made specifically to call out or make fun of another person).
Claim to fame: Although he had been making videos across social media platforms since 2014, his first viral TikTok was a lip synch to Sean Kingston's "Beautiful Girls" ... with Sean Kingston.
What parents should know: Bryce's videos are full of mature, edgy songs with lots of swearing, sexual references, and drug references. He is often shirtless and making suggestive or obscene gestures. He was also arrested for marijuana possession in May 2020.
Chase Hudson, @lilhuddy
What's he known for? As one of the primary founders of the Hype House, Chase Hudson (aka Lil Huddy) helped set in motion one of the most well-known squads of TikTokers. He also embodies the popular "e-boy" aesthetic of floppy hair and a fashion sense inspired by alternative skaters and K-pop sensations.
Claim to fame: Chase has cultivated an online presence on both TikTok's predecessor, musical.ly, as well as the livestreaming app YouNow.
What parents should know: There's lots of relationship drama surrounding Lil Huddy, who allegedly cheated on ex-girlfriend Charli D'Amelio with another TikToker. He also has a lot of swearing in his videos, including one that surfaced of him saying the "N" word.
Zach King, @zachking
What's he known for? By combining TikTok's impressive video-editing features with his own sleight-of-hand bravado, Zach King has become one of the most popular TikTokers as a virtual magician.
Claim to fame: Zach got his start on Vine, the now-defunct short-form video platform, with the username FinalCutKing, but one of his most popular videos on TikTok involves a clever illusion making it look like he's riding Harry Potter's broomstick.
What parents should know: Zach King's account is a great one for the whole family, since there is little to no inappropriate content (although there are some ads). Whether it's magic or just an abundance of creativity, his videos are a delight for all ages.
Spencer Polanco Knight, @spencerx
What's he known for? Sometimes known as the "Mouth Music Man," Spencer X is an incredibly talented beatboxer who likes to show off his skills and comedy chops. He's also a member of the Shluv House, which includes brothers Michael Le (@justmaiko) and 5-year-old Jonathan Le.
Claim to fame: In addition to giving silly beatboxing tutorials and challenging friends to copy his impressive beats, Spencer also does an "evolution of beatboxing" series, where he or friends do increasingly difficult sequences.
What parents should know: There's very little in the way of inappropriate or offensive content on Spencer's account. His current collaborators pride themselves on being kid-friendly.
Melissa Ong, @chunkysdead
What's she known for? Melissa is the founder and leader of the Step Chickens, a TikTok "cult" that went viral (and inspired an app). Thousands of her fans and followers changed their profile picture to her blue-tinted selfie (including accounts for major sports teams and news outlets).
Claim to fame: Before she inspired a series of memes, Melissa had a series of videos making fun of porn tropes in a chicken suit she called "Corn Hub," which inspired the name of her "cult."
What parents should know: No topic is off-limits on this satirical, self-deprecating account, including explicit jokes and references to sex, drugs, violence, and more. Melissa's dark, bizarre humor embodies the world of Alt TikTok, which some teens gravitate toward instead of the perfectly choreographed dances of other TikTokers on this list.