In fact, the app feed is filled with moms and dads, sisters and brothers, aunts and cousins and even family dogs who come together to create silly, creative and often quarantine content downright healthy.
The result is proof that families who stay together can create together, even if it seems like everything else in life is much more difficult than it should be.
Until recently, TikTok was primarily seen as a game for young people. The app has gained worldwide popularity thanks to millions of teens and young people who have flocked to its endless and addictive stream of short user-created videos. With a few clicks, users can participate in dance challenges or other creative trends that spread through the app and have made regular teens household names.
On top of all that, the music of ultra-cool artists like Doja Cat, Bazzi, Mighty Bay and Dua Lipa sets the scene for routines and memes that are often impenetrable to anyone who remembers life before iPhones.
But, like all forms of juvenile social media, the age of crab is still taking hold. Guiltless moms, dads and grandparents have become TikTok stars – often without their knowledge. And even if a video doesn’t go viral, it’s still a fun way to spend an evening.
Ken Schwartz is isolated with his wife and 17-year-old twin sons in Arlington, Virginia. Like many families, they planned movie nights, watched “The Crown” and cleaned the garden shed – twice. Schwartz’s stepson Ian even wrote a short film for the family called “Quarantaine! “
“We were so bad at playing, we tried to make a dance video instead,” says Schwartz.
Cue the TikTok attempt – and a multi-generational dance routine to “Say So” by Doja Cat.
Schwartz and his wife are still working in isolation, so things can be kept busy. “We definitely have our time apart,” he says. “But yes, we also find ways to be creative and to be together. “
This is the place to go now
People experience social isolation in different ways. Some create. A bulimia watch. Some are looking for any platform where they can connect with their crew. And some, well, just want to split up.
TikTok has a little.
According to Fast Company, users spend about as much time on the app per day as it takes to watch an episode of your favorite drama – 45 minutes in 2019. And with one new thing to discover every few seconds, it can deliver the same quality of well-being and addiction as the popular Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing.
The interface is more transparent than YouTube, where awesome ads and algorithms make it difficult to access a multi-video groove. And videos tend to have a more local and authentic feel to them; closer to the now-missing Vine video app than to the heavily aesthetic world of Instagram.
No wonder TikTok has recently hosted major cultural moments. Millions of people have seen TikToks created by healthcare professionals disseminating crucial information about Covid, debunking and revealing the realities – and humanity – of their daily struggles. When Gloria Gaynor is on your TikTok feed and shows you how to wash your hands properly while singing “I Will Survive”, you know you’re living in a very unusual time.
It offers other ways to create
While the app is primarily known for its musical aspects, it is also a mine of tutorials, training videos, comedy sketches, thirst traps, indoor jokes, journal-style stories and all kinds of scrolling entertainment.
Sophia Kianni, 18, and her sister Sabrina, 16, are quarantined with their family in McClean, Virginia. Sabrina is very popular on TikTok, with around 54,000 subscribers and several videos with seven-digit views. The sisters spent time in isolation finding new ideas on her behalf (Sophia isn’t even on TikTok) that usually focus on smart memes and teens’ life slice content.
“This quarantine allowed us to redo these fun things together,” says Sophia. “Which I particularly appreciate because I will be going to college next year and she is my best friend, so I will miss her very much. “
The sisters also use TikTok to try out recipes and find inspiration for exercise – two common interests for people who try to stay active and reasonably fed during isolation.
“We made a three-ingredient crème brûlée with our mom using a TikTok, and we also made three-ingredient chicken teriyaki,” she said.
They also tried frozen grapes with lime juice, strawberry and banana ice cream bites and a Persian dish called Faloudeh, which, according to Sophia, reminds her of her childhood.
It’s a way to bond
Naturally, not all families have the resources – or the mental energy – to collaborate on dance videos or try something new from a TikTok stream. But the general benefits of these hobbies go far beyond time.
“When we face really dark times, we turn to culture to face or find meaning or to laugh and connect,” said Dr. Jenny Radesky, a behavioral developmental pediatrician and member of the American Academy. of Pediatrics which specializes in the use of media.
In this way, the surprises or moments of happiness found on TikTok are not just an escape or a distraction. It’s something that people try to understand what is going on around them and to feel less lonely.
When Radesky hears about families dancing or collaborating together on the app, she sees the social power of choreography and work synchronization, generational divisions bridged by a common creative goal.
“This technology supports a family’s ability to work together, and it’s fun, but it also acts as a catalyst for spending time together,” she said.
It bridges the generation gap
It was not even Robert Jimison’s idea to post a TikTok from his entire family in quarantine making the #HitEveryBeat challenge to a remix of “Can’t Touch This”. The person who thought about it was her mom, who saw a video of Jennifer Lopez taking up the challenge and insisted that they try it.
Jimison, 27, is a reporter for the New York Times, but traveled to Atlanta to get out of the quarantine of coronaviruses with his family. He says that these dancing breaks are part of the new normal in his house.
“We used to have spontaneous game nights and family dinners. But we ate together almost every night and binging shows together. “
And, of course, make TikToks.
“My mom saw all of her favorite celebrities doing family TikToks and jumped into the group car,” he says.
It goes without saying that when this period of social isolation is over, there will be many, many more elders in the family who know TikTok than there were when it all started. And that, says Radesky, is another bonus.
“This is a huge opportunity for families to develop digital literacy,” she says. “Parents can have conversations about what their kids love. They can say “Show me funny TikToks”, “Show me YouTube videos”, then listen and ask and have conversations with an open mind. “
This last part is crucial because, let’s face it, many older people will never understand the appeal of TikTok. But when they participate (or at least enjoy) with an open mind, it makes the experience all the more enjoyable.
It’s about surviving
TikTok is not blind to the way people are using the platform right now. The app’s creators of taste regularly promote and organize popular themes, and the reality of life during the coronavirus is reflected in their current efforts.
The company offers several resources on coronaviruses to users and their families to get them engaged. A nighttime programming series called #HappyAtHome features celebrities and leading creators sharing tips, motivation and ideas. Educational live broadcasts and donation possibilities appear in the app. In an email to CNN, a TikTok spokesperson also highlighted healthy home content that caught the company’s attention, such as a routine video of mother-daughter skin care and the inspiration for a family movie night.
“The TikTok community is comforting, caring for each other and joining hands,” wrote TikTok president Alex Zhou in a statement describing the company’s efforts in the area of coronavirus. “It can be a serious time, but on TikTok it can always be joyful – and deeply inspiring. “
In this strange time in history, when so many people suffer, are at risk, isolated or live in deep uncertainty, it is generally accepted that, no matter what adaptation method works, go for it. If it’s just surviving day by day, fine. If it’s barely holding it together, fine.
If that makes silly videos on a music app, that’s fine. When the basic rhythms of life are so deeply and painfully changed, even the smallest creation can feel like a necessary work of art.