A lot of adults are hearing about TikTok these days, but unlike a lot of social media apps and platforms, there seems to be a definite age divide on the app.
TikTok seems to be for young people, and for young people only. That makes it understandable that there are a lot of adults, and parents, who don’t know anything about the new social media platform, what it does, what young people are sharing on the app, and what the potential risks are.
That can be very worrying, but this guide will hopefully answer all your questions and address any concerns you might have over what is undoubtedly an extremely popular app. Don’t worry – everything is going to be fine.
Okay, so what is TikTok?
You might be familiar with popular apps of recent years like Vine and Snapchat, where users make and share short video clips, either by sharing them via a profile or sending them directly to friends. In a lot of ways, TikTok is very similar.
A big feature of the app is the inclusion of background music. With other apps, you could always use music in your posts, but with TikTok, it’s an integral feature of the app itself. A lot of the clips shared on TikTok are parodies of popular songs, skits based on funny lyrics, and lip-syncs.
If you are familiar with Instagram, there are a few features you will recognize. With TikTok, you have the ability to make your profile private, so that your profile and posts can only be viewed by pre-approved friends. You also can exercise a lot of control over who can see specific posts.
Like Instagram, there is also a feed you can view that gathers content from other users that you may be interested in and presents it to you. With Instagram, this is called the Discover section. In the TikTok app, this is called the “For You” feed.
How popular is TikTok?
In the summer of 2018, TikTok had reached 500 million users worldwide. To put that in perspective, Facebook has roughly 2.5 billion active users, and Twitter has approximately 330 million active users.
With this in mind, TikTok is now positioned among some of the most recognizable social media platforms, and if you consider the fact that TikTok users are much younger than most, it’s fair to say that the app is perhaps one of the most popular in that age bracket.
TikTok is popular with young people, and in turn, a lot of popular young people are on TikTok. Some of the most popular profiles on TikTok are those of Loren Gray, Zach King, and Baby Ariel, all of whom have more than 30 million followers.
Some high-profile celebrities have also taken to the app. Nick Jonas, Rita Ora, and Lewis Capaldi all regularly post videos to their profiles.
Again, this shows that the app is extremely popular, and while a lot of adults know nothing about it, it’s very much in the mainstream.
Who owns TikTok?
Tik Tok was developed by a Chinese company called ByteDance. TikTok is one of the first Chinese social media apps to achieve mainstream popularity outside of Asia, and the first Chinese app to reach the most downloaded list in the US in 2018.
A lot of people have concerns about Chinese technology companies at the moment, from issues surrounding Huawei, to the role of the Chinese government in its country’s larger companies. However, TikTok seems to successfully avoid a lot of these issues. For instance, the app itself, while owned by a Chinese firm founded by a Chinese technology entrepreneur, Zhang Yiming, is not available in China, so it sidesteps a lot of the regulations that China would impose upon it.
Also, all of the data stored and collated by TikTok is stored on servers in other countries. In short, if you are concerned about the apps ties to China, you needn’t be. It’s all good.
What about parental controls?
A lot of parents might be worried about their children’s activity on TikTok, which is understandable. Social media in general is full of risk, and why would TikTok be any different?
Until very recently, there was little by the way of parental controls on the app, but as of February 24th 2020, new parental controls have been rolled out, which centres around what’s call “Family Safety Mode.”
This allows parents to engage with their children’s activity on the app, and implement restrictions like a daily time limit for using the app, disabling direct messaging capabilities, and filtering out specific types of content that parents feel is unsuitable for their children. Family Safety Mode is still in development and may see further changes very soon.
Are there ads on TikTok?
Advertising on TikTok, like parental controls, is still in development. There are ads, and like Instagram and other platforms, there can be a lot of sponsored content and influencer marketing. A lot of brands have already adopted the platform by creating their own profiles and content.
Some of the biggest brands that have taken advantage of the platform are the NBA and NFL in the United States, as well as Guess clothing.
Two important things to remember about marketing on TikTok are that because the audience is much younger, it presents a huge opportunity for brands aimed at children and teenagers and that because the app is still developing in how it approaches advertising, you can expect further changes in both how it relates to brands, and how its advertisements are displayed within the app itself.
To sum up, there are a lot of important things to remember about TikTok. It represents a huge new platform for advertisements directed at young people.
It is a platform that will soon see the effects of the parental controls being implemented. How that will affect the user base, who knows? While there are concerns surrounding the app because of it’s ties to China, there seems to be a lot less risk here than with other apps and technology brands.
The app itself is positioned to be one of the most popular social media apps of the 2020s. But at the heart of it all, it’s important to remember, that it’s just a fun, goofy app for sharing videos and music with your friends.