TikTok for Dummies (more specifically, parents and millennials)

Chances are you may have heard there’s a smartphone app named TikTok, but may not know what it is or does. But, if you’ve recently seen a young person dancing, miming or lip syncing on a smartphone, you likely have your answer.

“TikTok is one of the most popular apps on the face of the earth,” says WTOP tech guy Gregg Stebben.

“It’s just a place where millions of people have put billions of very short, very entertaining videos, between 15 seconds and a minute long.”

TikTok is social, a chance for users to create the content they share, as well as short videos uploaded by friends and strangers.

“You might see some dancing. You might see some singing. You might see some karaoke. You might see some lip syncing, a joke, some storytelling — often in cars — practical jokes, memes, and I should warn you, sometimes some very strong language,” said Stebben.

As with many apps that quickly become popular, young people are providing the impetus. Tik Tok users are supposed to be 13, but the person with the phone is responsible for entering their age.

“It’s really good, wholesome fun. The only thing missing is Bob Saget, host of America’s Funniest Home Videos, because in a way, it’s very much in that spirit,” said Stebben.

With vertical videos, the ability to choose music, funny filters, and other creation tools, TikTok skews young — for now.

“The age gap will decrease. As people outside of teens and millennials become exposed and begin watching for themselves, of course the teens and millennials will leave and go somewhere else,” Stebben said.

Users don’t have to create an account to watch videos on phones, tablets or computers, but they do need to create an account to comment or post videos.

Eventually, like Snapchat, Stebben expects there will be advertising potential for brands looking to engage with a younger, mobile audience.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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