Pre-Teens Shift to TikTok

Kids love YouTube...until they become pre-teens.  Recent studies show that kids are switching over to TikTok at the age of 10 and by the time they are 15, it's their number-one choice.  

TikTok is supposed to be for kids who are 13 and older. But like many apps, kids can find ways to get past age requirements.

A section of the app does include additional safety and privacy features for kids under 13.  In this section, kids can only see curated, clean videos, and aren't allowed to comment, search or post their own videos.

There are reasons why kids are making the switch to TikTok.  Let's take a look at why kids are drawn to TikTok and the implications it has for children's ministry. 

Kids prefer to visually engage. Video is in with TikTok.

Emily Wilt, a media specialist in Indiana, says this...

“I see our society becoming increasingly visual,” she says, “so I've been trying to work with some of my colleagues to remind them that research sources don't have to just be text-based."

Seems this statement rings true - "a picture is worth a thousand words." 

How much are you using images in your lessons?  Most curriculums only use a few pictures/videos.  Their slide count is 5-8 visual slides per lesson.  

I believe if you really want to see today's kids engage with your lesson, then you must use lots of visual imagery.  That's why my curriculum...Connect12...uses 70-100 visual slides per lesson.  You can see lesson samples and videos at this link. 

Today's kids hear with their eyes.

Did you know that Robert Ballard's popular TED talk about discovering the Titanic, contained 57 slides with no words.  He showed pictures and images without one word of text...and the audience loved it. It is one of the most popular TED talks ever.  

It's a fact. Kids engage and learn better when information is presented in pictures.  When you teach verbally...without pictures...the retention rate for kids in only 10%.  Add pictures and the retention rate rises to 65%. 

Short, bite-sized videos reflect the attention span of today's kids.  The previous standard for a child's attention span was one minute per age.  In other words, with 3 year olds, you had about 3 minutes before you lost their attention.  It capped out with older kids at 5 minutes.  

This has changed.  Today's kids have so much information coming at them, that they quickly skim through the information for something that grabs their attention and can hold it for a short time.  TikTok is a great example of this as kids quickly skim through short videos at a fast pace.

The power to create.  TikTok gives people the opportunity to use their creativity.  People can make their own short videos and post it.  Kids love the opportunity to be creative and express their talents and abilities.  

While kids under the age of 13 aren't supposed to be able to post, we know how that works. Kids are able to get around the limitations. 

According to Common Sense Media, 42% of kids have a phone by age 10.  By age 12, it's 71 percent. By 14, it's 91 percent.

TikTok does offer a few ways for parents and caregivers to manage kids' accounts. You can enable time limits and the content filter on your kid's phone and protect the settings with a pass code. Or you can download TikTok, create your own account, and use the Family Pairing feature to manage your kid's TikTok settings using your phone.

Are you giving the children in your ministry the opportunity to be creative?  Perhaps it's making a short video about the lesson.  Perhaps it's creating a short rap for the Bible verse of the day?   

Kids will learn more and get more involved in the lesson if we will give them the opportunity to use their smartphone to be creative. 

Instead of telling kids to put away their smartphones, maybe we should let them use their smartphones to enhance and express the teaching.

Imagine what would happen if you did this.  What if you told the kids to use their smartphones to create a one minute video about the lesson?  Then everyone could watch and discuss the videos about the lesson. I guarantee you that it would grab their attention and they would be excited about it. 

For clarity, I am not talking about kids posting videos on TicTok, but rather making stand alone videos they can watch on their phone with everyone during class.

Today's pre-teens are not the same as pre-teens when you and I were children.  They live in a media-driven world and we must reach them with the Gospel where they are.  This means we must be intentional about keeping up with the elements of their life in a post-Christian world and continue to be relevant for today's kids.