Ohh where to start. I feel as though I am a Social Media junkie. I have Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Houseparty, Tumblr, Whatsapp, and of course Twitter. So what else is there right? In my head I kept thinking that I really, really did not want to add more addictive social media accounts to the many that I am already checking. So instead of instantly adding TikTok to my phone I did a little research into social media trends that kids are using.
There are so many that I have never even heard of, but out of all of them, the one that seems to be the most relevant (that I am not already using) is TikTok. I did however find a great article on Common Sense media that covers 18 Social Media Apps and Sites that kids are using. It is well worth a read as it tells parents (and teachers) what you need to know about the app/site. I didn’t realize how many of the sites were just chat apps that pair you with a random stranger. I thought it was better to avoid those apps and did finally succumb to the idea of downloading TikTok just like Leigh – I really didn’t want to but here we go!
Down the Rabbit Hole
First of all signing up was easy – really easy in fact. Once you download the app it asks you to select the topics you are interested in, and as you can see I chose many. I purposely left a few off like sports and food because I want to see if they creep into my feed even though I didn’t select them.
Next they ask for your birthday. I didn’t put in my real birthday and I thought to myself how easy it would be for our tech savvy youth (shout out to Dan Savage and the Tech Savvy Youth) to add any birthday they wanted and then I was in – I was able to start watching short videos and swipe up to the next one. After a couple minutes however it did have me create an account. I had options though – I could sign up through multiple options but settled on my gmail account.
Once I had an account it was easy to get lost in the land of TikTok. The videos are short and many of them are interesting or funny. For example:
And I couldn’t stop watching this one:
And sure enough “Food” did make it into my feed:
This app is incredibly addicting and fun to watch. As my previous heading said: “down the rabbit hole” I went. I watched videos for way too many hours and I ended up missing a supper date with friends on Saturday night because I was watching TikTok videos and didn’t notice the time. I have to admit – it has been the most fun I have ever had doing research.
I think the biggest implications is has for kids is the fact that you can’t really control what is showing up in your feed. If you are worried about bad language then you are S.O.L. with this app. You never know when an F-bomb is going to drop, but I can tell you that it is dropped often and by people you would least expect to drop it – yes I’m talking about you vegan grandma TikTok lady! Another negative implication is that it is so addictive, our kids need to be getting outside and doing things not spending their free time watching other people on TikTok.
On the positive side I found an article that talks about how the sharing of knowledge is an important side effect of TikTok. The article is an opinion piece but I do agree with what the author is saying. You can find just about anything on the app from cooking to making music. I like how kids now vs 10 years ago are more open to singing and dancing in front of each other, and even though some of the TikTok trends are destructive or dangerous there are other trends that encourage kindness, or working really hard on something to master it. TikTok is providing a means to show of what you have spent a long time perfecting or learning, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.
Implications for Education
Every parent/adult that plays a role in our students lives needs to know about the things they are interested in – knowing makes conversations so much easier. When we have a better understanding of the Social Media types that students are using we can talk with them about it and hope that we can help them make informed decisions. The Common Sense Media article that I posted earlier lists the following things that parents need to know:
- Songs and videos contain lots of iffy content. Because the platform features popular music and a mix of teen and adult users, swearing and sexual content are commonplace.
- There are often creepy comments. Though lots of comments are kind, videos often have comments about the performer’s body or other sexual references, and since kids under 13 and adults use the app, it’s especially creepy.
- Gaining followers and fans feels important. Teens want a public profile to get exposure and approval, and many are highly motivated to get more followers and likes for their videos.
Lastly – to TikTok Trends
I have to admit I don’t like the trends that are showing up on TikTok. Before our last class I had no idea about the trends that were going on – I was clueless. We had a soap dispenser go missing from one of the changerooms at our school and we had no idea what had happened or why it had gone missing. My “ignorance is bliss” persona is now gone and I know that it is trending on TikTok. I was even able to find out who took the soap dispenser (not because I found the video – but because I have a pretty good relationship with parents at my school and I made a few calls. I found out pretty quickly who did it). All of this did lead to an idea.
I am going to try to start a new TikTok trend at my school!!! It is going to be through random acts of kindness. Students will record themselves doing something nice for someone. The video could end with a little reflection – maybe they could state why that person deserved having the deed done for them – or how it made them feel doing it. Just trying to look for a positive spin on the love of trends. If anyone has any other thoughts or suggestions please let me know.
I do believe there are many ways that TikTok could be incorporated into the classroom especially with the ability to record and inform. Students could record their understanding of a concept and post it to their account. Often times we learn so much better when we are the ones doing the teaching or explaining. It is just another avenue for students to solidify their knowledge. The other advantage is that unlike this blog post they have to be short and concise – as the maximum amount of time they would have to show their learning is 3 minutes. The list of hashtags below are the most popular Tiktok hashtags – check them out and enjoy!
#tiktok #foryoupage #fyp #foryou #viral #love #funny #memes #followme #cute #fun #music #happy #fashion #follow #comedy #bestvideo #tiktok4fun #thisis4u #loveyoutiktok