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TikTok screenshot of a high school spirit week dance

Is it just me, or have you seen an increase in students dancing in the hallway, at recess, or even in the classroom? Maybe your students are in a good mood, or maybe it’s TikTok, a popular social media video sharing app. Mostly used for short dance, lip sync or comedy videos, TikTok has over 1.5 billion users; 60 percent of the U.S. audience are users ages 16-24.

Some educators view TikTok as a classroom management nightmare; others are trying to figure out ways to use the app to connect with their students. Kathryn Byars, a high school social studies teacher and member of Corona-Norco Teachers Association, lets students use TikTok for assignments. Her students had the option to make TikTok videos to compare and contrast various historical trade routes, for example, and to share inventions from the Industrial Revolution. “Instead of fighting it, I’m finding ways to engage with it in my classroom,” Byars recently told Education Week.

Like most social media, there are joys and challenges to using the platform. If you’re considering using TikTok in the classroom, the next column offers a few things to be aware of.

TikTok can be a great way to engage your students.

The platform is playful, fun and easy to use. It can be a way to engage students by dancing, being silly and showing your human side (best for educators with high self-esteem! 😄). Because the app is community-focused, it’s also a great way to engage multiple students at once.

Bullying happens on this one, too.

As with any social media platform, it’s important for educators to be aware of how bullying can occur on TikTok. With the “duet” split screen feature, users can react to another person’s video and provide commentary while it’s playing. Some students have used this to make fun of others’ videos. Educators can encourage students to shut off the duet feature on their videos.

Talk to students about privacy and data sharing.

Because TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, it is unclear if the Chinese government has access to the personal data of TikTok users, including students. Safety, data and privacy are important issues to discuss with students. Learning and sharing information about the privacy settings on TikTok may be helpful, too.

Encourage students to start a TikTok club.

For superusers of the platform, a club may be a great way for students to connect and express themselves through dance, skits and other performances. Some educators view TikTok clubs as the drama club for the digital age! How is TikTok being utilized in your school? Tag us #WeAreCTA and let us know!