What Parents Should Know About the Tik Tok (Musical.ly) App
If you have a teen or tween in your home, then it’s likely you’ve heard of musical.ly, the lip-syncing video app. Recently, Tik Tok, another video app similar to the now-retired Vine, acquired musical.ly making them one of the world’s biggest social apps with more than 300 million monthly active users. In short, it’s really popular and if your kids aren’t using it yet, they likely soon will be.
Originally, musical.ly, users could create and share music videos in which they sang or lip-synced a song. Tik Tok allowed users to upload short, non-music videos of themselves. Now, the merged app gives everyone an opportunity to be a video creator, and it gives them tools (i.e., filters, stickers, control over video speed, access to professional audio, etc.) to make fun and entertaining content. But, per most social media standards, the app has its drawbacks, including privacy concerns that parents need to be aware of. Here’s what you need to know about this super popular app.
What Is Tik Tok (including musical.ly)?
Tik Tok (including musical.ly) is a short-form video app, available for iOS and Android devices. Videos are fifteen seconds long and replay in a continuous loop. The results, from showcasing incredible talents to presenting precious moments and knowledge, can be a fun, entertaining, and a beautiful experience.
The Tik Tok app is owned by ByteDance, a China-based company that creates innovative platforms powered by machine learning technology.
What Parents Need to Know About Tik Tok
Tik Tok is an app that is open to the world, so mature content can (and does) appear in the stream. Thankfully, the app has privacy settings available. You can decide whether or not you want others to find you; set your account to private so other users cannot view your uploaded content; and select who can send you a message, leave comments, and singalong with you.
Tik Tok is rated 12+ on the Apple app store and “teen maturity” on Google Play. However, there is no system in place to verify a user’s age, so anyone can download it. Because of the access to inappropriate content, and the use of popular music that may contain explicit language, this is not an app for young kids. Concerned parents can use the parental control settings on their children’s devices to prevent them from downloading the app.
Reactions are limited to the heart symbol to encourage positivity within the community, but open forum comments can, unfortunately, promote negativity.
That said, older teens who love making videos will likely enjoy using Tik Tok and may already be active on it. However, parents should definitely still talk with their children about appropriate online behavior, and make sure kids understand what kind of content is OK to post and what is not. Kids should also know to come to an adult if they see something that disturbs them. Review our tips for keeping kids safe online, and decide what’s right for your family.
What Are the Benefits of Tik Tok and musical.ly?
One reputable aspect of the Tik Tok app is the “Digital Wellbeing” setting. It is a screen time-management mode that holds users to a two-hour limit on the app per day when turned on. A pass code is required to continue using the app past that time limit. The pass code is a perfect opportunity for parents to step in and set limitations around excessive screen time.
So far, Tik Tok has not tapped into the educational realm, but there’s definitely an opportunity. Teachers could use Tik Tok as a tool in the classroom for an assignment. Challenges could be created to illustrate a concept or lesson, and it would be easily digestible material for students all over the world.
Brittany Marklin is a contributing writer for Learning Liftoff and a community manager for K12. She coordinates all K12 student contests and connects with families who pursue online education. She attended George Mason University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing, with a minor in tourism and events management. Brittany spent her first five years at K12 on the social media team where she aided with content and strategy for multiple channels, and helped construct K12’s user-generated content site, “What’s Your Story?” When she’s not working, Brittany loves spending time with her husband and daughter in North Carolina.