If you have children/grandchildren of a certain age, chances are you’ll have heard of TikTok. Chances also are that you may think it’s merely a platform where mainly young people share videos of themselves doing choreographed dances or lip syncing.

While there certainly are an enormous number of such videos, there is increasingly more to the platform.

TikTok allows people to post short-form videos – we are talking less than a minute and often less than 15 seconds.

During the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns in 2020, the use of TikTok surged as people around the world sought ways to keep entertained while stuck at home. Some users made videos based around being in lockdown. Perhaps the most mainstream of these was the Washington Post’s account (@washingtonpost) run by Dave Jorgenson who spent lockdown making videos in his apartment.

You may have also heard of comedian Sarah Cooper (@whatchugotforme) who spectacularly lip-synced Donald Trump.

But there were also less well-known people capturing the moment, including some posing as God, the devil or aliens trying to understand the chaos that was 2020.

Political activists also use TikTok to organise and share content. The platform has been used extensively in the Black Lives Matter movement.

To find such content you do not necessarily need to follow the people posting – you can use hashtags, e.g. #BlackLivesMatter or #BLM.

You can use hashtags to find all sorts of content. For example, posts with tags like #autistictiktok and #actuallyaustistic has some great content that can help people learn more about people on the autism spectrum and how they communicate.

Or you can check out things like #nzfarming “#farmingnewzealand to see rural content from all around New Zealand.

TikTok is also used to share interests or hobbies – pick the thing you are interested in and do a search. Take photography – enter “#photography” and you’ll get people showing photography tips and photos.

Foodies can also enjoy TikTok by checking out the likes of #foodtiktok, #tiktokfood or #recipesoftiktok.

You can discover new music, often from the tracks people choose to background their dance videos. A Kiwi high school student Joshua Nanai (known as Jawsh_685), has had huge success after one of his tracks, the catchy Laxed (Siren Beat), blew up on TikTok as the background to one of the many dance challenges on the platform. The song was then sampled by singer Jason Derulo for his song Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat) and the track hit number one around the world.

But it is not just songs in the background you can discover. Original musicians also use TikTok to promote themselves, with #originalmusic being one way to find some good musicians, who often post their tracks to Spotify so you can explore from there.

Lastly, as if the internet were not already full of cute animal videos, there are endless videos of dogs and cats just being adorable.