With 689 million users, TikTok is gradually becoming part of our everyday lives and is paving the way for the newest trends in society. But Tiktok’s value has often been questioned; some believe that the standards it promotes and the hours teens spend using it are detrimental to their mental health. I’m here to discuss both sides of the coin so you can decide if you want to continue scrolling.
Image Credit: Oliver Bergeron
1. The For You Page
The For you Page on TikTok is a never-ending scroll of 15 to 60-second videos that appeal to the user's interest. With this alarming amount of content, users are constantly being fed with new videos, keeping them scrolling and unaware of how much time passes by. Additionally, TikTok users with older phones don’t have the feature that allows them to see the time while using the app, causing them to be even more unaware of the time that passes by. Not only does this have an impact on productivity, it can quickly turn into an addiction. A TikTok addiction exists when one is unable to watch a movie or hang out with friends without having the urge to use the app.
2. The Dopamine Effect
Let’s look into the science of why TikTok can be addictive. Dopamine is known to be a reward system for our brain because it reinforces us to take actions to gain pleasurable experiences. And since our brain is always on the lookout for ways to receive dopamine, we continue the same cycle of scrolling, like hamsters on a wheel. That is why many people refer to TikTok as a lottery system. The user may never know what video they will receive next but is willing to see what they can gain. In this situation, time is lost instead of money.
Although I have seen an immense amount of love and support for others on the app, I can’t deny that I have seen the promotion of unhealthy beauty standards and eating habits. Children as young as 9 years old are comparing their bodies to others, the comment sections are in a frenzy when someone doesn’t necessarily meet their standards, and content creators are discussing ways to count calories. Some TikTok users are even comparing it to Tumblr – an app that is also infamous for unhealthy eating habits. Continuous viewing of this content can trigger an eating disorder and needs to be addressed so we can create a positive environment where everyone is welcome.
I believe that the users of TikTok are one big family with a lot of inside jokes. Many teenagers come to TikTok to relate and vent about their parents, their school life, or relationships. I have many times believed that I’m alone on a certain topic just to later see someone else struggling just as much as me. TikTok users’ teamwork was greatly illustrated when they reserved seating for Former President Donald’s Trump's rally in Oklahoma but did not show up. The plan was to trick Trump into believing many people wanted to attend it. Situations like these have formed a strong community on the app.
Many people come to TikTok for their brand, company, or career to launch. Artists such as Doja Cat rose to fame once their music gained attention on the app. Even a student who attended my high school is now a verified Content Creator and uses TikTok to promote his fashion wear. TikTok is one of the most successful places to gain a platform, and once people develop theirs, they are able to use their popularity for good and bring awareness to crucial topics. There is no denying that the fame of TikTok can inspire people.
Many content creators on the app use their platform to bring awareness to certain topics ranging from African American history to the legitimacy of Zoom’s privacy settings. I have learned about current events that aren’t being discussed in the classroom and other social media apps. With millions of users on TikTok and the control it has on society, discussing crucial topics such as Uighurs Muslims in concentration camps has the ability to change the world.
It is up to you to decide if TikTok is the right place for you. If you do decide to stay on the app, make sure to use it moderately by setting limits on how long you use it and by controlling what content you view.