Written by Gracie Roberts, senior at Owensboro High School
If you have seen a kid dancing in public lately, it is highly likely they were doing the “renegade dance.” If you witnessed this and did not know what it was, you were also blindly introduced to the viral app TikTok.
Background of TikTok
TikTok is a video-sharing social networking service owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based company founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming. It is used to create short lip-sync, comedy, and talent videos. TikTok started as Musical.ly. The apps are virtually identical, but the trends have changed as did the music. Tiktok absorbed Musical.ly when it was bought by ByteDance for $1 Billion. When this purchase happened, all of the accounts made on Musical.ly were transitioned to TikTok accounts, opening up a whole new world to the app that was forgotten about.
Who uses it?
According to Oberlo.com, TikTok has been downloaded about 80 million times in the US, and 800 million downloads worldwide. 41% of TikTokers are between the ages of 16-24 years old. Celebrities are active on the app too, and that adds to the appeal for kids and teens.
Why would parents worry?
The sudden popularity of any app may make parents worry. According to commonsensemedia.org, “TikTok won’t let you search for objectionable content.” Additionally, it says, “If you supervise your kids and stick to songs you already know from the radio, TikTok can be a kid-friendly experience.” Vulgar language is also not allowed, and is taken down almost right away. Some users have found a different sort of language that they can use to create questionable content, but it is over the heads of the youngest users. Most teens consider TikTok equally as safe as other social media apps such as Snapchat and Instagram.
Two students who found fame on TikTok
Two Owensboro High School students have found their fame on the app. Conner Rhoads, a 16-year-old sophomore, has had TikTok for about two years. Rhoads says his fame came to be “by a video of my best friends and I screaming at a camera to an instrumental song in the car.” Rhoads says, “It just kept on getting more and more likes and views to the point that I reached 134.8k likes, 442.5k views, and 20k followers.” Rhoads says he makes TikToks because, “Whenever I have a bunch of friends over and we’re bored, we just make them. They’re fun and there’s no reason why I wouldn’t make them.” He says he spends two to three hours on TikTok per day, “mostly at night before I go to bed.” When asked if he would rather make them or watch them, Rhoads claims, “I don’t know, honestly. I love watching TikToks because everybody’s videos just get funnier and funnier, but making them is just so fun to do… Especially with the chance of getting famous.”
Talyne Payne is also a 16-year-old sophomore and has had TikTok for about a year. There is a trend on TikTok of recording two to three people behind two to three others while they answer a series of questions regarding those sitting in front of them. Payne and four friends participated in this trend with questions ranging from “who is the most organized” to “who is the most boy crazy?” This video ended up getting three million views, over 404k likes, and 37.5k followers. She says reaching over a million views made her “feel happy.” She says she considers the positives of the app to be the fun factor of the videos. “They’re fun to watch and it gives me something to do when I’m bored,” she says. She spends about an hour and a half on the app daily, and says she enjoys watching them more than making them. When asked about how much she is on it during the school day, she says, “I don’t really get on it at school. Most of the time I spend on it is at home.”
Mrs. Libby Johnson is in her 15th year as a teacher at Owensboro High School. She teaches Journalism I and is the advisor of the yearbook and the online school news. She says, “As a parent and a teacher, I think that TikTok — while I am sure it’s fun — seems to be a giant waste of time. There just doesn’t seem to be any value to the content.” Her kids do not have the app, but she claims, “I did let my sixth grader get it for about 24 hours, but then I took it off because I thought it was just too silly.” She does not see a disruption with it in a typical classroom setting, but when it comes to her workshop environment classes, “it has been an issue.” She believes that the negatives outweigh the positives with the app.
There is no telling how much longer this phenomenon will take over kids minds and free time. We may have to be dealing with the “renegade dance” for much longer than we want to.