What is TikTok and is it dangerous?

TikTok is now a well-known phenomenon, especially among young people. The app offers the possibility to make short videos of 3 to 15 seconds, in which you show something funny or clever. We dive a little deeper into this sensation.

TikTok is often compared to Vine, but actually it is the successor of Musical.ly. This was a video streaming and sharing app that allowed you to share videos of just 15 seconds with the world. It had over 100 million users, some of which have become very famous. However, that celebrity often skips on other social media, as a result of which Musical.ly has lost stars to YouTube, for example.

It was Musical.ly

In August 2018, Musical.ly was acquired by the Chinese ByteDance, which transferred all accounts to the new TikTok. TikTok actually does little different than Musical.ly. You make videos of 15 seconds and it is extremely popular: it now has more than 300 million monthly active users, although there is also talk of more than 500 million monthly active users. The biggest difference with Musical.ly is that TikTok is no longer just about music.

It's a very creative platform, which is mainly about showing you something special, funny or clever in a few seconds. That can be a kind of skit between two lovers, but also a video of a woman who can hula hoop with 100 hoops at a time. And thus also the aforementioned short music videos in which a user plays and dances.

Of course it's not so much the fact that you can make videos of 15 seconds, because you can also do that with your phone's camera. The point is that the app offers you all the tools to dress it up as nice as possible: it contains thousands of music and you can (just like in Snapchat) put cool filters over it. And that attracts a very young target group.

The social aspect

That all sounds pretty friendly and harmless, but it doesn't stop there. What makes TikTok so popular is the social aspect. You do not necessarily make videos in the app that you then have to share on other social media: the intention is that you stay within the TikTok app. You can respond to other videos there with, for example, a reaction video.

When TikTok was just starting to get big, the privacy and security of the platform was in bad shape. Initially, you could only make your videos completely private (so only you could watch them), or make it public for everyone. However, in July 2018, TikTok made some changes, making private means that only followers you've approved can watch the videos. Parental control has also been added and privacy settings have been expanded regarding private messaging.

Privacy settings

So TikTok added some privacy settings a few years ago, but by default your videos are shared with everyone and your profile is public. So you will have to dive into the settings yourself to change this. To do this, go to the settings of the app Privacyand put only friends can contact me directlyat. Continue too hide location data on and private account so that your privacy is better guaranteed.

Although TikTok is rated for 12 years and older in some countries and 16 years and older in others, younger children are not discouraged from using the app. TikTok has said that accounts of people under those ages will be removed, but of course that's hard to control. Yet it is not for nothing in the App Store that the app may contain slightly sexual content and nudity, for example due to challenges in which young girls have to take off their clothes.

Although most users put fun, harmless content on the platform, there are certainly dangers for young children. In addition to the problem that young children often cannot properly estimate the consequences of their videos and that it may be possible to determine from this where children live or go to school, several situations have been reported where pedophiles wandered on TikTok. In addition, many young people imitate things they see in video clips and that can get very sexy at times. India has therefore even banned TikTok.

You are supposed to stay within the Tiktok app

Not suitable for young children

TikTok is not suitable for young children. It is not for nothing that it has an age recommendation of 12 years and older. Nevertheless, it is basically no more dangerous than, for example, Instagram or Snapchat: videos can also be uploaded there with slightly too explicit content and it is possible to respond to each other. The best advice for parents of children who do want to use TikTok anyway is to either not allow it, or to ensure that you keep a grip on the privacy settings. You can also become friends with your child on the platform to see what is being posted. In any case, as with internet use in general, it's important to keep talking about it.

This is how TikTok got so big

Although TikTok is big all over the world, it also has many local competitions and challenges, which appeals to people to show the whole world where they come from. The app also wants to appeal to users even more personally by giving them recommendations based on their use of TikTok. That makes TikTok popular and loved, which is why celebrities are also getting involved with it. For example, the American talk show host Jimmy Fallon has a partnership with the app, in which he writes out challenges. This is how the #TumbleweedChallenge is his idea: in it people have to pretend to roll by like a scooter roller. It sounds crazy, but it had over 10 million comments in a week.

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