TikTok: 60 second videos taking over our brains

by Rachel McCoy and Ashley Nash

Do you see people watching videos on their phones laughing uncontrollably? 

Do you see random people doing weird dances in public? 

Have you noticed people only know about 15 seconds of a song? 

If you find yourself asking these questions, the answer is all because of TikTok. Like it or hate it, it’s taking over teen lives.

Previously known as Musical.ly, TikTok was released in 2017 but just recently started blowing up social media. TikTok is the #1 app in entertainment on the Apple App Store, above Netflix and Hulu. In September, the app is available in 34 languages with 150 million active users. Thirteen is the minimum user age, but plenty of children, teens and adults are hooked.

This app is meant for making and sharing short videos up to a minute long. You can navigate the app by scrolling up and down on the ForYou page and the following page, which is made up of the people you follow. Its set up is very similar to Instagram.

The main consumers are Generation Z; however, famous adults like Cardi B (@iamcardib), Jason Durlo (@jasonderulo), Jimmy Falon (@fallontonight), and many others have accounts on the app. Even some NFL teams have the app, like the Philadelphia Eagles (@eagles).

People can get famous from their videos getting on the ForYou page and receiving likes and comments. They can even get paid if they go viral, like Jacob Sartorius (@Jacobsartorius) who started on Musical.ly but now is famous for his Sweatshirt song.

Some people do not like the app and refuse to download it. 

Skylar Stevenson, Class of 2021, said, “I find it annoying, and everyone is addicted to it to the point where I will hang out with someone, and they will just watch TikToks and not talk to me because that’s all they’re focused on.”

China’s Beijing Bytedance Technology Co purchased Musical.ly in November 2017 for around $1 billion. One of the reasons for buying was to get into the U.S. markets. TikTok now has over 1 billion users in the world. Some reporters have expresses concern about china’s extensive surveillance.

Musical.ly was an app for lip syncing. Tik Tok is the fresher update. Teens use the app to express themselves by creating short video clips that gain a following and build a community around their passions and their humor. These videos are for lip syncing, dancing, memes and showing off. Many videos are also based on challenges like the clock woah challenge, Haribo challenge, and the raindrop challenge.

Teenagers find themselves watching TikTok for hours upon hours. Since people are trying to limit their phone use, the new app automatically warns users when they’ve been watching for more than two hours. 

“TikTok is a great way for my friends and me to be creative together. I find myself on the app quite frequently, making videos or watching my friend’s videos,” said Val McNeill(@vmcneill4), Class of 2021.

In India the App is banned because it made children vulnerable to pornographic and other inappropriate content.

While most videos are harmless and fun, some may cause parent concern.  You even don’t need to create an account to view the contents on the app, but to be able to post a video, an account is required. Users need to be careful when making an account since the default of each account is “public.” Children will be tempted to keep their account public in order to gain clout. But if the account is private, the only thing visible to the outside user is the name and the profile picture. There are also more advanced privacy settings.

Even though users can make an account private and limit who can see videos, kids often post without reviewing the videos they make. 

While this app has its drawbacks, all social media is a risk. And in our generation, we live through our phones.

Check out our TikToks at (@Rachelmccoy1) and (@Ashley.nash)