Social media platform TikTok captivates teens

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In recent months, people from the age of thirteen and up have been spending hours scrolling through the app TikTok. If you are unaware of the app and its purpose, think back to the app Musical.ly. Musical.ly was an app launched in 2014; it was bought by ByteDance, a Beijing-based media and tech company. The company had already owned a similar app called TikTok and decided it would represent the company and its users’ content best if the apps were combined. 

The purpose of TikTok is to create and share short lip-sync, comedy, and talent videos. It is a popular goal to reach the app’s “For You” page so that your video will be recognized on a wider scale. Users will often try to make the best videos possible with their talent of choice in hopes of becoming “TikTok famous.” Some refer to the app as “addicting” and find the app to be a distraction to our everyday responsibilities. 

In February 2019, TikTok, together with Douyin (China’s version), hit one billion downloads globally. The popularity of the app has caused people to download it “as a joke” but they have now become regular users. 

“I downloaded TikTok because I wanted to see what the hype was all about. I did not have any intention of actually using the app until I realized what I was missing out on,” Alexa D’Arinzo (’21) said. 

TikTok is not only about watching other people’s videos, but it is also about creating your own. To create a music video with the app, users can choose background music from a wide variety of music genres, edit with a filter, and record a 15-second video with speed adjustments. It is popular among all user ages to imitate and try to master the talents that others post. 

“As much as I like watching TikToks, I really enjoy recreating them. I like to master the dances and sometimes mimic the lip-synching videos I find funny,” Lulu Buckey (’23) said. 

As entertaining as the app is, some students find it to be a complete distraction from their everyday responsibilities. 

“I always get stuck watching TikToks for longer than I intended. I plan to go on for a quick few videos before I start my homework, but I somehow end up on the app for an hour or more. My ‘For You’ page has almost every video that I want to see; once I see one I have to see another, and that is how I end up wasting my time,” Gina Melia (’21) said.

The videos that appear on each users’ ‘For You’ page are there for a reason, whether the user showed interest in the sound that was chosen or they follow the user who created the video. This often leads to inappropriate content being shared across a broader audience. The company is very active in deleting videos or accounts that violate their policies. According to a statistic found by globalwebindex.com, 41 percent of TikTok users are between ages 16 and 24. This leaves a lot of room for mistakes or mistreatment of the rules of the app. The company’s terms of service policy states, “We reserve the right to disable your user account at any time, including if you have failed to comply with any of the provisions of these Terms, or if activities occur on your account which, in our sole discretion, would or might cause damage to or impair the Services or infringe or violate any third party rights, or violate any applicable laws or regulations.”

The words “TikTok famous” have been popular amongst teens in the past few months. The meaning of this word is to receive a large number of views, likes, and followers. The “TikTok famous” people that are very popular right now would all include people from the ages of 15-20. It is most likely that TikTok will not be a career for those who have made it to successful levels on the app, but it does not stop them from making connections from the talents they have been able to express through their own short videos. 

While TikTok may be one of the youth’s most addicting distractions at the moment, it may not be as bad as some think. It can be as simple as a teen’s favorite source of entertainment or their easiest way to express themselves. If one is not careful, they may let TikTok consume all of their time. If this is not the problem at hand, TikTok has been able to positively affect the youth population and hopefully will continue to in the future. 

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