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Arguably, the biggest social trend to come out of lockdown is TikTok. Kids used it before the national pandemic, but now all generations are starring in short, viral videos to entertain themselves during the coronavirus crisis. And one of the most popular pairs on there? The parent-child duo.
Mums, dads, and their kids are busying themselves each week with the latest dances on the social media app, whether it’s the simple shoulder-to-shoulder move, flipping the switch and wearing each other’s clothes, or mastering the foot shake.
Of course, celebs are getting involved, too. Victoria Beckham shared a video of herself dancing to... herself (‘Spice Up Your Life’) with her 15-year-old son Romeo, in the kitchen; while Reese Witherspoon was taught how to “dap” by her teenage son, Deacon Phillippe. The older generations are getting in on the act, with Dame Judi Dench and her grandson Sam Williams joining in.
So what’s all the fuss about? And why has lockdown brought out the dancer in us all? We spoke to parent-child duos to see what training was like, what went right – and what went very, very wrong.
‘I didn’t decide to use TikTok, I was made to!’
Kelly Attree, 37, from Essex, has been TikTok-ing with her daughter Yasmin, 13
“We love a bit of TikTok, although I’m not very good,” says Kelly. “They’re actually really hard... well, for me, anyway. Yas is always trying to get me to learn a new dance!”
It might look like this duo nailed the dance first time, but don’t be fooled. “It took us over two hours to learn it, and many attempts to record it without going wrong,” she says. “Actually, most of the time it was Yas going wrong. But, hey – we got 83 likes and 248 views!”
Kelly says she didn’t “decide” to use TikTok, so much as being “made” to by Yasmin. And in one video, Yasmin even managed to get three generations of the family involved by persuading her grandmother, Jackie, to join them. “It’s great fun, though, and takes up a lot of time when you have it spare,” the mum adds.
As for the dances, Kelly says they choose the ones that are trending at the time. “We even got on the ‘for you’ page – I don’t know what that means, but am told it’s a good thing!” she says.
‘Before lockdown I found it really annoying, but now I love it!’
Kim Swead, 43, from north London, is doing TikTok with her youngest son, Bailey, 10
Before lockdown, Kim found TikTok really annoying. “My youngest son loves dancing and he started using it at Christmas,” she says. “He couldn’t stand still without doing hand movements and dances to songs. And then lockdown happened and suddenly I thought, maybe I should get involved.”
The mum-of-two says she thought it was something she and her son could do together. “We’ve never been a ‘crafty’ family,” she says, “and I don’t do domesticated stuff like baking, but this I can do. And I enjoy it!”
Kim says her eldest son has “disowned her completely”, but she’s managed to persuade her husband, James, to do one.
How does she choose the dances, then? “I pick them based on what’s easy,” she says. “Bailey has had to teach me, but he doesn’t have any patience. He can watch them and pick it up straight away. But it takes me a long time to pick up the movements!”
The duo did a hilarious, NSFW rendition of ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen – “Yep need to rein in the potty mouth after lockdown,” she laughs. “I’m aware it’s not the best example set.”
Kim doesn’t want to be “TikTok famous”, but she does love the reaction she’s getting. “As an extrovert, I’m not coping well with lockdown. But making these, sharing them and getting feedback from friends saying they like it, helps,” she says. “Bailey isn’t too young to be embarrassed, he’s happy with me doing it – he even put the hashtag #coolmum on one of them!”
‘We’ve even got the family dog involved!’
Carra Kane, 45, from Wimbledon, has been using TikTok with her daughter Jadyn, 13.
“Jadyn told me to watch TikTok and find videos I liked,” Carra tells HuffPost UK. “She’d say, ‘what about this move?’ And I’d look at what she’s doing and say ‘yes’ or ‘no’!”
The first few times Carra and her daughter filmed a video, it took them five or more takes. But soon, they got the hang of it and their views started to rack up. “People kept asking where the rest of the family was, so we had to get everyone involved – the dog, Candy, too,” she says.
Jadyn says it isn’t embarrassing making videos with her mum. “When I first downloaded TikTok I wasn’t sure what it was, but my mum decided we could use it to make cute videos together,” she says. “It’s been a really good bonding experience!”
The 13-year-old says she hasn’t seen any of her friends do it with their families, so she likes that they are doing something different. “We’ll probably carry on, even after lockdown!”
The only real problem has been finding time to practise and record their dance, says Carra. “Jadyn will ask to do it at the wrong time, like when I’m cooking dinner, and then it’s hard to coordinate! It needs to be the right time.
“It’s definitely given us more opportunities to have fun during lockdown that aren’t ‘typical’,” she adds. “We love playing cards and games as a family, but this was something Jadyn and I could do together – just as mum and daughter.”
‘I just wanted to bond with my son’
Cameron Boyd, 25, from Los Angeles has teamed up with his eight-year-old son on his latest TikTok.
In slight reverse, Cameron had his own TikTok account before the pandemic, but he decided to get his eight-year-old son involved while they were in quarantine together for some bonding time.
The father-son duo haven’t done a dance yet, but they did reenact a scene where a “panda” [a.k.a dad] came to scare the eight-year-old at night. “He had the cool idea to do the video,” says Cameron.
“I just wanted to bond with him and make a TikTok during this pandemic to help ease his mind off of how dangerous it is to be outside at these times,” he says.
They’ve only done one together, but they’re plotting to make more soon.