Should TikTok Be a No-Go for Your Military Family?

teen holding smartphone
(Eric Pilgrim/DVIDS)

Have you ventured into the land of TikTok? Chances are you've seen videos from the new social media platform showing up on other social media platforms. The short, fun videos are popping up everywhere, delighting some and concerning others.

The Defense Department as a whole, as well as the Army and Navy, has advised against using TikTok and banned downloads of it on official phones. But using it on personal phones is up to each individual.

Military spouse Kia Young says she approaches all social media platforms the same way, stressing that it's an individual choice. "Approach each platform safely, use parental controls, consider private accounts on TikTok and post videos that only certain people can see. It's no different, to me, as [kids] having Facebook or Instagram and checking in on them," she said.

Everyone has a space on TikTok, Young said. It's not just dancing the Renegade; anything you find enjoyable can be shared. Examples include cooking and sharing recipes, or funny things your kids do and say. And while it's a great way to relate to teenagers, not everyone in your family needs an account.

Young suggests starting a family account and letting your children help create content for it. "Being safe is a priority, and make sure you're checking in and knowing what's going on," she said. "I even ask them about fake channels."

It's important to have real conversations with your kids and set expectations.

Young has two teenagers, only one of whom has an account. "I'm all about doing what works for you and your family and for each child individually," she said.

Her younger child, who does not have an account, creates content for TikTok with his older sibling and his mom. "It's a fun way to pass time and tap into your kids' creativity without overthinking. It's fun to see what ideas they can come up with. I'm impressed with what they come up with!" Young said.

TikTok is making big inroads as a social media tool in business. Young said she sees this every day as attention spans get shorter and video takes over the way most people consume content.

"Your target audience may live on Instagram or Facebook, and those short-form, 15- to 60-second videos really capture their attention. They are easy to edit -- on a small learning curve -- and they enjoy the fun video aspect of it. The content is easy to relate to, there are fun challenges and it sets you up to relate to others on a personal level while sneaking in some business savvy," she said.

For a business, Young said TikTok is a culmination of everything that is working in social media: It's visual and it's short. It's the perfect storm of content for entrepreneurs.

As with all things, social media usage and TikTok can be great learning opportunities, for parents and professionals. Take time to learn about new things and see whether they fit into your personal and professional lives.

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--Rebecca Alwine can be reached at rebecca.alwine@monster.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebecca_alwine.

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