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What is the Tik Tok app?
- If your family is in the US, it’s unlikely your student has this app. However, due to the global popularity of the app we want to let parents know beforehand so you can keep your children safe
- Developed in China, the app combines lip-syncing, built in video effects, and social media
- The company that developed Tik Tok bought the popular Musical.ly app in 2017
- Many users say Musical.ly and Tik Tok are very similar
- If your student has the Musical.ly app, please watch our Musical.ly Safety Guide for Parents
- Users can watch clips of others or create clips, edit them, and add special effects
- The most popular videos feature lip-syncing or dancing
What is the Musical.ly app?
- Musical.ly is a popular app with teens and tweens that lets users make lip-syncing videos to their favorite songs
- Sometimes there can be mature language and sexual content in the songs that are popular on the app, and there is no way to filter the content
- According to ABC News, there are messaging features in apps that are popular with kids (like Musical.ly) potentially allowing strangers to contact your children directly. A policeman (who is a father of a 7 year old) is warning parents after his daughter was contacted by a predator on Musical.ly
Why should parents care?
- According to ProductHunt.com, the Tik Tok app has more downloads than Snapchat, Spotify, and Gmail combined on the App Store
- The reason the app is so popular is because it mixes self deprecating humor with the latest pop music
- There are only two privacy settings on the app
- Private: only the creator can watch their videos
- Public: anyone on the app can see their videos
- By default, all accounts are public unless the privacy settings are changed In our experience, apps like Tik Tok and Musical.ly can allow strangers to direct message your children
The Tik Tok App in the News
"Reports on the inappropriate use of the popular iPhone app, Tik Tok, [have] said videos featuring self-harm and other life-risking activities, as well as sexually suggestive content, could easily be found on the platform." –South China Morning Post
"‘I risked my life, please like!’ Mobile app Tik Tok has Hong Kong children craving acceptance – and some are going to dangerous extremes. A doctor specialising in addiction warns it is risky for young people to evaluate themselves by their number of ‘likes’ on social media." –South China Morning Post
What can parents do?
- Monitor and have a dialog about the apps your children are using
- Always be on the apps your students use. No monitoring app is better than having a regular digital safety conversation with your children
- Consider creating a Family Cell Phone Contract before giving your students access to a mobile device
- If your student already has a phone, ensure that they ask for permission before downloading and using any new apps
- Have your child teach you about any new apps they want to download. Then do some research on your own to determine if the app is safe for your family to use
- Remind your children that their online activity (even under a fake username) can impact their reputation