Unlike most of us, TikTok thrived in 2020, accumulating over a billion users worldwide. Maybe it was because we were all stuck at home with nothing better to do than post entertaining short-form videos or maybe it’s the unique, personalized, addicting feed TikTok offers its users. Either way, TikTok has taken over the social media world and has even influenced recent updates on apps like Instagram and Snapchat. If you don’t use TikTok yourself and are desperately trying to understand the new platform your child is spending hours a day on, check out our Parent’s Complete Guide to TikTok.
The chances of everyday users going viral are exponentially higher on TikTok than any other social media platform. With TikTok’s algorithm, you don’t need millions of followers to have your content seen and shared by people from all around the world, you just need to have a "public" account. For many users, it quite literally happens overnight. Their video used the right hashtags and was seen by the right people at the right time, bringing instant and sometimes lasting fame.
The most popular TikTok influencer, Charli D’Amelio, became famous from a 15-second dance video and began accumulating a dedicated fanbase. She now has over 100 million followers, her own merchandise, partnerships with large corporations and even got her Dunkin Donuts’ coffee order named after her. So yes, going viral can be great, if that’s the kind of attention your child is looking for. However, with this fame and fortune comes a lot of hate.
Charli claims to receive hundreds of thousands of hate comments a week criticizing her weight and physical appearance. She has recently received backlash due to her behavior in a YouTube video with her family and personal chef. Many are saying her sister, Dixie, and herself are rude and ungrateful for their newfound fame and opportunity. Despite how famous one becomes, this online abuse is hurtful and unacceptable. As a young teenage girl, this cyberbullying has taken a toll on her mental health. However, she continues to speak out against online bullying, work to ignore the haters and find joy in using TikTok’s platform.
If your child has recently gone viral or dreams of it, you may be concerned about the type of attention they are opening themselves up to. It is always so important to prioritize their online reputation, especially with the possibility of it being seen by millions of strangers. Talk with your child about what it really means to go viral and the responsibility that comes with it. Oftentimes, kids get millions of views and likes on a video and due to the instantaneous recognition begin acting irresponsibly.
By going viral, your child needs to have a public TikTok account. With a public account, they are not approving or declining the follow requests coming from other users. This brings in a lot of strangers they could now be interacting with. They should be cautious about who they message and communicate with as it is very plausible they could get themselves into dangerous or traumatic situations. In addition, they should expect to be hounded by online trolls just looking to get a rise by cyberbullying others, even young kids. These comments and messages can be brutal. Even though they are coming from strangers, they can take a toll on your child’s mental health and well being.
After going viral, many creators begin hosting TikTok livestreams. Livestreams are a way to post content in real-time, unfiltered and unedited. This is a great way for fans to interact with influencers and see their authentic, unrehearsed self. However, many creators have fallen victim to livestreams and said things they later regret. If your child begins hosting livestreams with their new entourage of followers, they may not understand how their words could haunt them later on. They should be extremely careful about what they say, the information they give out and their behavior on livestreams because all of this can either make or break their online reputation.
Going viral is oftentimes a part of the thrill and fun of posting online. It is exciting to see that hundreds or thousands or even millions of people from all over the world are entertained by your content. This idea has even launched the careers of some of the most successful celebrities and influencers. However, we encourage you to talk with your child about the opportunities and obstacles that come along with it. They need to be even more intentional about what they post after going viral knowing that a much larger crowd has their eyes on them. Whether they are looking to launch their TikTok career or are just wanting to enjoy the attention and have some fun, encourage healthy habits so that they can continue to use social media responsibly.