TikTok: What Parents Need To Know

TikTok was launched in 2016 and currently has more than half a billion users. That's 15% of the World population that's on TikTok. To put that in perspective, that's almost 1 out of every 6 people in the world. At this staggering number, TikTok is the number one most downloaded app across devices in the world. “With 315 million downloads in the first three months of 2020, TikTok set a new record for the most installs by any app in a single quarter” (Business Insider, Apr. 16, 2020).

So What is TikTok?
  • TikTok is an app for creating and watching anywhere from 15 second to 3 minute videos. It is a self-expression forum. It's a place for regular, ordinary users to become overnight, viral sensations. A place for otherwise lonely individuals to be a part of a viral community. 
  • TikTok started as an app for users to share short videos of themselves lip synching and dancing to their favorite songs.
  • Gradually, TikTok evolved from a community of lip synching and dancing, into a community of viral challenges, comedy videos, memes, how to's, life hacks, and so much more!

  • 62% of TikTok users in the US are between the ages of 10-29 (Statista, 2020). The reason TikTok’s users are so young is because the creators of the app chose users under 18 as their target demographic from the very beginning.
  • When it comes to the daily time spent on TikTok, users spend an average of 52 minutes per day (BusinessofApps, 2019)
  • 52 minutes of TikTok can equate anywhere from 18-208 videos daily.

The Ugly Side of TikTok

TikTok is not just a platform for funny videos, memes, and music videos. It is also well known for its extensive collection of videos relating to drugs, alcohol, pornography, and other adult content.
  • According to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, an account claiming to belong to a 13-year old was shown 569 videos about drug use including references to cocaine and meth addiction, as well as promotional videos for the online sales of drug products. Once again, these videos were being shown to children as young as 13! 
  • As part of their investigation, the Wall Street Journal accounts (between ages of 13-15) were also shown over 100 videos promoting pornography sites and sex shops from accounts labeled as “adults only”
  • There have been a total of 41 deaths so far, this year linked to TikTok, whether they were suicide videos or dangerous stunts. Suicide and violence also make up a substantial part of TikToks. 
  • TikTok is also home to dangerous and often imitate-able challenges which have been known to result in arrests, self-harm and injury, and even death. The "Blackout" Challenge encourages users to choke themselves or others until they go unconscious. A 10-year old boy in Florida was found dead, hanging from a tree in his front yard after attempting to film his attempt at the Blackout Challenge. The "Skullcracker" Challenge encourages users to trip someone who is running in an effort to hit their head on the ground, thus the name. The "Devious Licks" challenge encourages users, typically students, to deface, vandalize, and steal public property from schools, restaurants, and public bathrooms. This has resulted in multiple arrests across the country. 
  • Witchcraft, the occult, and Satanism have been promoted on the app through videos on “manifestation” and “spells”. How to's involving contacting spirits and demons through Ouija Boards, Tarot cards and Astrology are popular amongst users.
  • Even “clean” videos in content contain foul and vulgar language and euphemisms for sex that is so prevelant in the lyrics of many of today’s most popular songs.

For any parents that are unsure of letting your teen use TikTok, I encourage all parents to download TikTok and watch 15-20 minutes of TikTok videos (together with your spouse, never alone) to see the app for yourself, then decide if you want your kids on TikTok. I am quite confident that it will not take the full 15-20 minutes for you to see that TikTok is not an app that a child of God should use.

Jesse Maxwell | YP
Landmark Baptist Church | Haines City, Fl
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