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What hip, new app are the kids using these days? TikTok

By Carrie Rogers-whitehead, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Sep. 24, 2018 at 1:41 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — Have you heard of TikTok? If not, your teens probably have.

Since early 2018, the music app has exploded worldwide and now has more users than Reddit, Twitter, Skype, Snapchat and LinkedIn.

You may not have heard of TikTok, not only because many of its users are younger, but because its growth has primarily come from Asia. TikTok (known as Douyin in China) is the top free app in Japan and Thailand and is one of the first Chinese apps to have such a large, global reach.

American users may be more familiar with musical.ly, the lip-synching video app popular with teens. Musical.ly made it easy to create instant music videos, and Generation Z created a new brand of celebrity called "musers" with names like Baby Ariel, Jojo Siwa and Ariel Martin.

While these celebrities may not appeal to the vast majority of adults (their Nickelodeon days are long over), musical.ly celebrities have been highly influential to the 100 million active users on the platform.

As of August, however, musical.ly no longer exists. The app was bought out by TikTok, creating a global video platform juggernaut.

Though I was familiar with musical.ly, I didn't know much about TikTok and decided to try it out myself. You can use TikTok to lip-synch, but its uniqueness comes from strong video-editing features, live streaming and the social media functions of the app.

TikTok allows you to shoot short videos from your phone. (Photo: Carrie Rogers-Whitehead)

When you first open the app, you're greeted by an algorithm-selected video. As you interact more with the app, the videos change. Similar to other social media feeds, the most popular videos pop up to the front.

You can also search for videos on different topics or "challenges." TikTok has brought in more users, particularly teens, for these challenges.

One I found particularly amusing was called #notmylegs. This challenge has users doing silly movements, dances or other things with someone else's legs. With creative blankets, clothes, poses and camera angles, the video creators can make someone else's legs look like theirs.

For me, the biggest appeal of TikTok was how easy it was to use. The videos are short (just 15 seconds) and play to background music that users can pick from TikTok's library.

You can create a professional-looking video in minutes. Add in powerful filters that make anyone look good, and it's easy to see why young people are so interested. With a simple click of the "beauty" camera, you, too, can be a video star.

TikTok is very similar to Vine, the popular but short-lived video sharing app that was discontinued in 2017. On Vine, you could create 6-second videos and share them — almost like gifs. Compared to Vine, though, TikTok is easier to use and makes it simpler to find other videos. If Vine does come back, which it's rumored to do, it has some competition.

When an app reaches over 500 million users, however, there are bound to be problems.

TikTok will show you videos you may be interested in. (Photo: Carrie Rogers-Whitehead)

TikTok's downside is its highly addictive nature. It's hard to look away from all the sights, sounds and content, particularly if you're only 10.

Another major issue is content. In Indonesia, TikTok was temporarily banned because of "pornography, inappropriate content and blasphemy."

Like Instagram and YouTube, the desire for views can lead young people to post dangerous pranks, sexually provocative material and more. With such a young user base, the content shared on TikTok can be particularly concerning.

While TikTok has powerful video editing features, it's not a video editing software, it's social media. Like any social media, parents need to be aware of the pros and cons and manage and monitor accounts.

Better yet, use TikTok with your child. While the silly video my child and I recorded as we lip-synched to "The Gummy Bear Song" will never see the light of day — we did have a great time together!


Carrie Rogers-Whitehead

About the Author: Carrie Rogers-Whitehead

Carrie Rogers-Whitehead is the CEO and founder of Digital Respons-Ability. She is a TEDx speaker and instructor at Salt Lake Community College and regularly trains on subjects such as information science, STEM, communication and digital literacy. She is also the co-creator of Wizarding Dayz.

TikTok's downside is its highly addictive nature. It's hard to look away from all the sights, sounds and content, particularly if you're only 10.

Another major issue is content. In Indonesia, TikTok was temporarily banned because of "pornography, inappropriate content and blasphemy."

Like Instagram and YouTube, the desire for views can lead young people to post dangerous pranks, sexually provocative material and more. With such a young user base, the content shared on TikTok can be particularly concerning.

While TikTok has powerful video editing features, it's not a video editing software, it's social media. Like any social media, parents need to be aware of the pros and cons and manage and monitor accounts.

Better yet, use TikTok with your child. While the silly video my child and I recorded as we lip-synched to "The Gummy Bear Song" will never see the light of day — we did have a great time together!


![Carrie Rogers-Whitehead](http://img.ksl.com/slc/2585/258536/25853698\.jpg?filter=ksl/65x65)
About the Author: Carrie Rogers-Whitehead -----------------------------------------

Carrie Rogers-Whitehead is the CEO and founder of Digital Respons-Ability. She is a TEDx speaker and instructor at Salt Lake Community College and regularly trains on subjects such as information science, STEM, communication and digital literacy. She is also the co-creator of Wizarding Dayz.

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Carrie Rogers-Whitehead

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