Tik Tok Takeover: What Makes the App So Popular?

By Rani B. ’21 Banner Staff

“Renegade, renegade,” fills the Upper School hallway and junior homeroom, or whatever sound has gone viral on Tik Tok recently. If you look at the Screen Time on most Winsor student’s phones, Tik Tok is the top app. Many Winsor teachers (and students) are definitely curious as to how the app has been so successful in making so many people addicted to its catchy dances and trendy videos. 

As the number one ranked free app on the App Store, Tik Tok gives users an accessible platform to browse videos with original content and sounds, or create videos set to already popular songs. The app has been downloaded over 1.5 billion times already and continues to grow. “Popular creators,” such as Charli D’Amelio, Loren Gray, Baby Ariel, and Gilhmer Croes have amassed millions of followers in recent months and received sponsorships from companies. According to an Insider article, D’Amelio, widely considered the reigning queen of TikTok, gained a whopping 22 million followers in 7 months. She currently has 24 million followers, over a billion likes, and continues to grow her following. These overnight-famous celebrities have become social media personalities and are also singers, photographers, and Youtubers. D’Amelio even had a brief cameo in a Super Bowl commercial for Sabra hummus. 

For those who don’t spend their nights swiping through the quite addictive app, the ways that Tik Tok stands out in comparison to Instagram, VSCO, and other video and photo-based social media platforms due to its flexibility. Trends become famous overnight, and there really is no “algorithm” to getting famous, or getting “Tik Tok clout.” Although 15-year-old D’Amelio consistently gets millions of likes and views of her videos, “going viral” on Tik Tok is seemingly inconsistent, and anything from a dancing ferret to David Dobrik (a famous YouTuber) making a world record amount of elephant paste can get noticed on Tik Tok.

In her AP Statistics project, Alyssa Weninger ’20 asked Winsor students and dancers from her dance studio “how much time do you estimate you waste procrastinating your homework on TikTok daily?” Her results found that in both groups, students and dancers were spending up to two and a half hours per day browsing and creating videos on the app. 

Explaining why Tik Tok is so addictive, Ava Nace ’21 noted how Tik Tok is both “a form of social media but you’re interacting so you’re not just sitting down and scrolling and the sounds are catchy!” Ava Hosea ’22 also commented that “the aspect that anyone can suddenly have a video blow up makes Tik Tok much more addicting. Also, because the videos are so short, you find yourself scrolling for hours without realizing how long it’s been.” I have actually had to put a time limit on the app to make sure that I don’t procrastinate my evening away.

The security of users on Tik Tok is a concern because its parent company is based in Beijing, and according to The New York Times, American lawmakers are worried about how the Chinese government collects user data. Since a report on the app’s potential vulnerability came out, Tik Tok has announced that it has fixed the problem, but if you do use TIk Tok, just be careful about clicking on any suspicious links on the app. 

Whether there is a security concern about Tik Tok or not, it will be very interesting to see where Tik Tok takes its millions of users in the coming months, and how creativity on the app evolves.