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Is TikTok Good for Kids?

Jade is begging her parents to let her make videos with this app. They say it’s a bad idea. Who’s right?

Lexile: 800L-900L, 600L-700L

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Dear Mom and Dad,

It’s so not fair that you won’t let me get TikTok. It’s one of the most popular apps in the world! More than 1.2 billion people have it, including ALL of my friends. When everyone at school talks about the videos they’re making, I feel totally left out.

You say some TikTok videos have swearing and violence. But I’m a good kid! That won’t change just because I start using TikTok. And I know you think I’ll spend too much time looking at screens. But you can set my account so that I’m on TikTok for no more than two hours a day.

Who knows what talents I’ll discover by making my own videos? Coming up with dances and skits will make me more creative. By recording funny movie quotes, I’ll get better at memorizing stuff. (Think of how that’ll help me at school!) And editing the videos will help me practice my computer skills.

Please give me a chance. You can check my account every day. Or you can make your own accounts and follow me! We can even do family duets—I’m thinking Ed Sheeran?

Your daughter,

Jade

It’s not fair that you won’t let me get TikTok. It’s one of the most popular apps in the world! More than a billion people have it, including ALL of my friends. When they talk about the videos they’re making, I feel left out.

You say some TikTok videos have swearing and violence. But I’m a good kid! That won’t change just because I use TikTok. And I won't spend too much time using screens either. You can set my account so that I’m on TikTok for no more than two hours a day.

I could discover new talents by making my own videos. Coming up with dances and skits will make me more creative. By recording movie quotes, I’ll get better at memorizing stuff. That will help me at school. And editing the videos will help me with my computer skills.

Please give me a chance. You can check my account every day. Or you can make your own accounts and follow me! We can do family duets—I’m thinking Ed Sheeran?

Your daughter,

Jade

Dear Jade, 

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You are a good kid! But when you see other kids making videos with swearing and rude behavior, you could start to get the idea that that’s OK. And some people leave mean comments on posts. We don’t want you to get hurt.

There’s a group called Common Sense Media that helps parents decide which apps are right for kids. It says kids should be at least 16 to use TikTok, mostly because inappropriate videos get posted. TikTok’s own rule is that you have to be 13 to post or comment. We know a lot of kids lie about their age, but that’s just not how we do things.

We appreciate your thinking about screen time, but two hours of TikTok every day is still way too much. You’ll do better in school if you spend that time doing homework.

We do feel bad that you’re left out. TikTok is huge right now, but trust us, that’ll fade. In the meantime, we can still record family duets—and text them to Grandma and Grandpa. Who could ask for better fans?

With love, 

Mom and Dad     

You are a good kid! But when you see videos with swearing and rudeness, you could start to think that’s OK. And some people leave mean comments on posts. We don’t want you to get hurt.

There’s a group called Common Sense Media that helps parents decide which apps are right for kids. It says kids should be at least 16 to use TikTok. Some of the videos are not right for younger kids. TikTok’s rule is that you have to be 13 to post or comment. We know some kids lie about their age, but that’s just not how we do things.

We're glad you're thinking about screen time. But two hours of TikTok a day is too much. You’ll do better in school if you spend that time on homework.

We do feel bad that you’re left out. TikTok is huge right now, but that will change. And we can still record family duets—and text them to Grandma and Grandpa. Who could ask for better fans?


With love,  

Mom and Dad     

This article was originally published in the December 2019/January 2020 issue.

This article was originally published in the December 2019/January 2020 issue.

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More About the Story

Complexity Factors

Purpose

The debate presents benefits and drawbacks of kids using the TikTok app.  

Structure

The text consists of two letters—one from a girl to her parents explaining why she wants to use TikTok, and the other from her parents explaining why the answer is no. 

Language

The language is mainly conversational but includes the words duet and inappropriate as well as rhetorical questions.

Knowledge Demands 

The text mentions video editing. 

Step-by-Step Lesson Plan

1. Preparing to Read

Have students preview the text features. Ask:

  • What is the topic of the debate? (Prompt students to use the debate title and the heading on the chart as clues.)
  • What do you think are the two sides of the issue?

2. Reading the Debate 

Read the debate as a class or in small groups.  A lower-Lexile version is available. 

Have students read the debate a second time. Prompt them to mark the types of support the author presents to back up each side, including:

  • Facts and statistics (F/S)
  • Quotes from experts (Q)
  • Stories or examples (EX)

3. Discussing

As a class or in groups, have students discuss:

  • Which evidence is most effective in supporting each side?
  • Is one side stronger than the other? Why?
  • What is your opinion? What evidence do you find the most convincing?
  • For more-advanced students: Do you think the author has a preferred point of view on this issue? What is your evidence?

4. Writing

Have students complete the chart in the magazine.

Distribute the activity “Write an Opinion Essay.” The lower-level version guides students to write a three-paragraph essay on the debate topic. The higher-level version prompts them to bring in additional evidence and write six paragraphs, including a rebuttal of the other side. With either version, hand out our Opinion Writing Toolkit, which offers writing tips and transition words.