'Dads of TikTok' sharing advice, life lessons

In February of 2020, a building inspector in central California named Mitch Couch uploaded a video to his TikTok account, @goodlyearth, and then went to bed.

"I woke up the next morning," Couch said, "with 20,000 new followers and it had 3 million views. That's when I was like: 'Whoa, I think I'm onto something here.'"

Couch decided to join TikTok after spending many hours watching videos on the platform with his daughter.

I asked her: 'Hey, could I make some videos myself?' And she's like, 'nah, it's for kids,'" Couch said.

But increasingly it seems TikTok's also for dads, or at least of dads: dads acting like Jurassic beasts whenever their daughters say the word "dadosaur," dads giving advice, dads sharing their joys, struggles and strategies of parenting.

"Everywhere on my 'for you' page, I see dads," Vox Senior Reporter of Internet Culture Rebecca Jennings said. "I think they're just sort of an endlessly charming source of humor and something cute and sweet."

Jennings traces the explosion of TikTok dad content back to the early stages of the pandemic.

"You got the chance to see what happens when families are cooped up in a house together," she said.

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Daughters and sons uploaded videos to TikTok showing their lives while trapped at home with their parents, to connect with others, pass the time and gain a following.

"I think people are sort of like using whatever they have in their arsenal of life experiences to maybe go viral," Jennings said, "and sometimes that's having a really funny dad."

"A lot of it had to do with being sheltered in place," Couch said.

A year into his #TikTokdad journey, Couch continues creating content because the platform demands still more of it, he enjoys sharing his DIY home-repairing-and-building knowledge and he now feels a responsibility to the followers who comment on his posts and send him messages.

"Kind of heart-wrenching," he said. "A lot of people are like: 'My dad passed away years ago. You remind me of him.' Or: 'I was adopted. Never knew my dad. I always think he's like you.'"

As for his daughter, who initially encouraged him not to create an account, Couch says she too now enjoys his TikToks.

"She may get a little annoyed though that her friends are always messaging her saying: 'Hey, I saw your dad again on TV or on TikTok,'" Couch said.