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5 Ways You Can Use TikTok to Strengthen Family Bonds

The current number of people who are using the video-based social media app TikTok is staggering. It boasts more than 800 million users, 90 percent of whom say that they are on the app at least once a day.

While the future of TikTok in the U.S. is somewhat uncertain, pending a potential ban on future downloads and/or a possible multiparty purchase that would allow for American investors to purchase a stake in the company currently owned by the Beijing-based ByteDance, it is currently the app of choice by many teens.

Some parents have voiced concerns over their child endlessly watching the stream of videos, but as with all other social media apps, TikTok also offers benefits like keeping people connected and entertained. News coverage of the app often focuses on its negatives, including potential privacy issues and dangerous trends. However, it’s possible to use TikTok as a form of family bonding to stay tightknit even when your family members might be miles apart.

A TikTok Primer

This app is easy to navigate once you have the hang of it, but for those who aren’t familiar with the platform, the first steps are to download the TikTok app and create an account. Once you do that, you’ll be prompted to choose from a list of different interests, including categories like “dancing” and “funny.” The app will use these interests to curate the content you see on your “For You Page,” which is abbreviated as the FYP.

The next step is to learn about how to keep your account secure and how to make sure your children aren’t exposed to inappropriate content. Be sure to visit TikTok’s “For Parents” page to see resources on how to help your family members make the best of their shared TikTok experience.

Find a Trend to Try Together

If you click on the “Discover” icon, which features a magnifying glass icon, you will see a list of current trends. As Halloween approaches, the #Spooktember hashtag is trending right now, and it’s tied to videos of people putting out their fall décor and revisiting some of their favorite Halloween costumes. After finding the trend you would like to participate in, watch some of the videos together and stage your own version.

Creating a video is easy. All you need to do is utilize the effects you want to use (the ones that are currently trending will appear first),  hit the red circle button to record, then hit it again to stop recording.

Have Fun Staging a Prank

Everyone loves a good prank. Or at least the 81 billion people who have viewed videos featuring the #Prank hashtag do. One current trend is to position several pairs of shoes on staircase steps and then put a water bottle in each. Then, in a panicked voice, the pranksters announce that there is “water running all the way down the stairs.” Staging one of these harmless pranks can help your family come together as a group of creative mischief-makers.

Start a Group Text Thread

Within the app, you can send TikToks to one another using the arrow icon. However, this means that the recipient has to check TikTok in order to see which videos have been sent to them. Instead, try creating a group texting thread to share videos. You can even create a scavenger hunt in a particular category. For example, you could start new traditions like Furry Friend Fridays where everyone shares the cutest video of dogs or cats that they can find.

Use TikTok as a Teaching Tool

Did you know one of the signs that you may be a visual learner is that you’re good at remembering faces, but not names? You can find thousands of fun (and useful) facts like this one under the #DidYouKnow hashtag. Of course, none of the content is fact-checked, so take all of the information in those TikToks with a grain of salt. As with all of the videos, users can use whichever hashtags they want for their videos, so it’s also possible for them to be mistagged.

These videos can serve as great teaching tools. Whether you’re actually using them to learn something new or encouraging your child to determine whether or not a fact is true, the short videos can be a great starting off point.

The app also provides an effective way to discuss serious issues with your child. You can use the app to discuss responsible social media use, as well as issues like mental health and bullying. In addition to being learning starting points, many of the videos also can serve as conversation starters.

This app is not only for teenagers anymore. Just consult the wildly popular #MomsofTikTok and #DadsofTikTok hashtags to see how many people are using the app as a way to stay connected.

Have you used TikTok to bond with your family?

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AnnElise Hatjakes

AnnElise Hatjakes is a contributing writer for Learning Liftoff. Her career in education began in 2010 when she worked as a teaching assistant while earning her master’s degree in writing. She has taught in a wide range of educational settings, including a public school, a school for gifted students, a university, and a county jail. She’s interested in issues of equity in education, which she strives to address through her own teaching practices and writing. AnnElise is the recipient of the University of Chicago’s Outstanding Educator Award, and her fiction has appeared in literary journals. As a third generation Nevadan, she loves all things Western, from wide open spaces to wild horses.

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