“For all the mums out there, what is TikTok?” Hollywood actor and mother of three Reese Witherspoon asked this of her 15-year-old son, Deacon, last month, in a post on Instagram.
“Basically, it’s a short-form video platform for kids,” Deacon replied, grinning widely at the camera – and possibly at his behind-the-times famous mother.
If A-list Hollywood stars have trouble keeping up with the latest social media platform, there’s not much hope for those of us who remember paying electricity bills at the post office. TikTok, an app that allows users to post videos of themselves doing everything from lip-syncing to playing air guitar to presenting exercise or make-up tutorials, has become the mega teen hit of 2019, amassing 500 million active monthly users across the globe after being launched two years ago. While each video is 15 seconds or less, clips can be linked for up to 60 seconds of content.
TikTok has turned a growing list of emerging artists into viral sensations and pop stars. These include 20-year-old American rapper Lil Nas X, who went from sleeping on his sister’s floor to securing a record contract with Columbia Records after having a hit on TikTok with his country rap single, Old Town Road. Then there’s 20-year-old Brit Amelia Gething, who, after collecting 7 million followers on TikTok, has been offered her own BBC sketch comedy show, The Amelia Gething Complex.