What You Need To Know About TikTok

With more than 2 billion downloads around the world and 165 million downloads in the U.S. alone, TikTok is wildly popular.tiktok logo

The coronavirus lockdown only increased its fandom as millions of bored kids, teens and influencers used the short video app to turn themselves into instant stars. The app is hip, fun and addictive. But is it safe?

Let’s take a look at the way TikTok operates and the security concerns surrounding the app.

How does TikTok work?

TikTok is a free social media platform letting users watch, create and share videos — often with a music soundtrack and other fun embellishments — right from their phones. Users can lip-sync to their favorite music hits, share their best dance moves on the app or show off their pet’s latest trick; all while connecting with friends through likes, comments and duets.

TikTok is owned by the Chinese tech company, ByteDance.

What are the safety concerns with TikTok? 

Like all social media platforms, TikTok encourages users to share slivers of their personal life. The app also captures user data by tracking likes, dislikes, friends, consumer patterns of behavior, locations and more. While other major platforms, like Facebook, do the same thing, TikTok is the first Chinese-owned app to gain such broad popularity in the United States, raising privacy concerns that Americans have never grappled with before.

There have been some claims that TikTok is a cover for Chinese spyware that steals users’ information and sends it back to China, but these allegations have been mostly unfounded. If TikTok is actually being used to scrape information on the lifestyle and habits of millions of Americans, that data could turn into a national security risk.

Another concern with the safety of TikTok is the app’s occasional release of new software with security vulnerabilities needing to be urgently fixed. While these issues are relatively common with apps, and they’ve all been patched quickly, the small window of time between the release of the software and the security patch-up can pose a serious risk to TikTok users.

Will TikTok be banned in the U.S.? 

The United States is not the first country to raise concerns over the safety of TikTok. The app has already been threatened with bans in several countries, including Indonesia, Pakistan and Japan.

More recently, President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to ban TikTok in the United States. Trump is pressuring ByteDance to sell the app to an American company before the ban goes into effect on Sept. 15. Microsoft is currently under negotiations with ByteDance to purchase 30% of the app, but the administration is pushing for complete ownership by an American company. As the deadline for a deal approaches, TikTok continues to insist that its platform is completely secure.

“TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S.,” the company said in a statement. “We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”

Should users delete the app?

With negotiations still underway, and the future of TikTok in the U.S. still unknown, many users are unsure of how to proceed. Is the app safe to use?

There’s no black-and-white answer to this critical question. While every social media platform poses a safety risk, as the only Chinese-owned app to dominate the American scene, TikTok is a bigger concern. You may want to delete the app just to be on the safe side.

If you decide to keep TikTok on your device, be sure to exercise caution when using the app:

  • Don’t assume your data is private. Keep all potentially vulnerable information off the app and videos you share.\
  • Keep the app’s setting private.
  • Beware of what you share. If you aren’t comfortable with the video going viral, don’t share it.

TikTok is a super-fun app that may pose a potential risk to user security. It’s best to practice caution when using the app to keep your information safe.

Your Turn: Are you concerned about the safety of TikTok? Tell us about it in the comments.


9 Ways For Kids To Make Money

The best way to teach a child financial responsibility is by encouraging her to earn and 3 kids at lemonaide standmanage money on her own. As the weather warms and summer nears, there are many opportunities for your kids to pull in some extra money.

If money-making is not on your children’s minds, you may need to direct them toward that line of thinking. The next time they ask you to buy something that’s out of budget, tell them they can earn the money to buy it themselves. As an alternative, suggest that you’ll cover half the cost if they earn the other half. Talk to them about finding a summer job, the work they can do on weekends, or suggest a one-time gig they can initiate.

In honor of Youth Savings Month, let’s take a look at 9 easy ways your kids can earn some extra cash.

  1. A lemonade stand

It may be old-fashioned, but kids can bring in good money by selling cups of America’s favorite hot-weather drink. For optimal exposure, let your kids set up their stands near a local yard sale or another neighborhood event. Don’t forget to check local municipality laws to make sure your stand is completely legal.

  1. Help a senior

Your pre-teen can be a huge help to a local senior while earning money on the side. Let your child run some errands, take out the trash, clean the litter box or just chat with a lonely senior. If your own parents or in-laws live nearby, speak to them about having your child help them out for payment.

  1. Hold a yard sale

Spring-cleaning season is the perfect time to host a yard sale on your front lawn. Let your kids be in charge by having them choose the items to feature, set the prices and run the sale. You’ll want to be available to oversee their work and to make sure the prices are fair, but let them make most decisions on their own. Take off your helicopter-parent helmet and let your kids learn lessons that will stay with them for life.

  1. Do yard work

If your children are old enough to handle a gas-powered mower and can be relied upon to trim shrubs and weed gardens, let them hire themselves out to do yard work. Your neighbors will be glad to have the help, and your kids will be out in the sunshine while earning some money on the side.

  1. Help with pets

Are your kids animal-crazy? Let them use their penchant for pets to help people with pet-related chores. They can walk dogs around the neighborhood and offer to pet-sit for the afternoon while a neighbor is out. If your child is truly a budding entrepreneur and has the necessary skills, they can even set up a pet-grooming station out in the yard. Let them scrub the neighborhood dogs and cats, brush the hair and trim claws for some extra cash.

  1. Be junior tech-support

Generation Z kids are practically born holding smartphones in their hands. Let your kids use those skills to help some older folks who may not be as tech-savvy. They can offer to organize digital photos and create albums, assist with data entry and filling out online forms, or help a senior create a Facebook page or learn how to use a new phone or device.

  1. Help a mom

Your child may be too young to babysit on their own, but they can offer their services assisting a neighborhood mom while she’s at home. Let your child take the kids out to the yard while mom watches from the deck, play with the kids at home while mom does laundry or help them with their summer homework while mom’s busy in the kitchen.

  1. Collect recyclables

Call up a local recycling plant to find out how much they pay for every pound of recyclable materials. Then help your child gather empty bottles, cans, cardboard boxes and old newspapers to bring to the plant. You’ll be keeping the planet green and helping your child earn some pocket money at the same time.

  1. Wash cars

Let your child try out her car-washing skills on the family car. Once she’s got the technique down pat, have her offer the service to the neighborhood. Your neighbors will cross another weekend chore off their list and your child will be learning that hard work can really pay off.

Encourage your kids to earn their own money and you’ll be teaching them financial responsibility in the best way possible. And, don’t forget to teach them to save part of what they earn in their Destinations Credit Union account!

Your Turn: How do your kids earn money? Tell us about it in the comments.