During the pandemic, young people were stuck in their homes, unable to go to school or socialize face to face with friends. However, they did find a place to “gather” that gave them a common bond. Tik Tok, a video-sharing app owned by a Chinese company launched worldwide in 2018 according to Wikipedia. It existed a couple years before the pandemic shutdown; however, Tik Tok launched into a frenzy of popularity, especially for those of us outside of Gen Z, after March 2020. In fact, if you ask a young person, they can reminisce about all the trends that happened each month of the pandemic. One of those trends since so many families were spending all day together, all ages began working together to create dance moves and other content for the app. Celebrities got in on the fun as well. Even though we were stuck at home without new movie releases or live concerts, we did get a peek into the lives of stars like Justin and Hailey Bieber and JLo through their personal Tik Tok accounts. There are a number of people who rose to Tik Tok fame in the last two years. Here are a few with the number of followers, in millions: Charli D’Amelio (126.8), Khabane Lame (117.2), Addison Rae (85.2), Bella Poarch (83.8), Zach King (66). For a comparison of stars: Justin Bieber (22.9), JLo (14.1), Will Smith (63.4). (Please note these numbers were at the time of publishing this, they go up by the thousands daily.)
Why should we, adults who live and work with young people, care about TikTok? We barely have time to be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, why add another app? We need to be aware of the “world” where our young people are spending their time. While we do not have to live there with them, and be careful because TikTok can be a bit of a rabbit hole this is difficult to get out of, we do need to be aware of what they are watching and to whom they are giving their time.
By now, you hopefully have heard about the Devious Licks challenges that were going around in schools this fall. If not, Google it and take a look. It started as vandalizing bathrooms, and next was supposed to move to slapping teachers, video recording these and posting them on social media. Schools came down hard on offenders and hopefully, have put and end to the trend. A positive trend that start in response was Angelic Yields where students began putting items such as lotions, soaps and even a coffee pot into the bathrooms as their schools to oppose the vandalism trend.
A word of advice as well. TikTok, like other social media, uses an algorithm and will show you videos that match your habits. So, for instance I see videos about cooking, crafts, devotions and general soccer mom stuff. So, you will need to have a conversation with and possibly sit down next to your young person to watch their TikTok in order to be in their world. You may think that they will not want to share or will shy away from you being in their business, but the opposite is quite true. Many times, you will surprise them with your interest in their lives. Just watch and ask questions, do not criticize. If you view something you do not like or disagree with, ask the young person their thoughts or opinions and then respond with your feelings using “I” statements.
Take a listen to this podcast where a pastor, youth leader and I talk about all of this and respond to this growing social media application.