Jana Venigas ||
The widely known video-sharing app, Tiktok, is used by multiple teenagers and adults alike. The application allows users to film and share videos up to 60 seconds. The usual media is curated in a system called the “For-you page”, which, as the name states, provides similar content as that of which a user interacts with previously. Its backbone is an algorithm that provides a subconscious option to personalize, by liking, commenting, and sharing videos to push more related videos. Because of the amount of publicity it is getting, the app isn’t much of a safe space as most teenagers would treat it as. There have been multiple coverages and issues raised regarding this application, each of which is quite soul-shattering.
One of the most common issues expressed by concerned parents about Tiktok is its methods on attracting and attaching to teenagers. It is addictive, but for a reason. The moment the application is opened, videos immediately start to play, earning the attraction of the person behind the screen. Like every other social media platform, Tiktok earns its revenue through the amount of attention they steal from its users. By pushing advertisements to your field of vision while you are locked in its cage of attention, it is basically like opening your wallet for potential money profited from your obsession. Unnecessary attachment to social media can interrupt a person’s day-to-day life. Some will resort to committing hours upon hours on Tiktok rather than their responsibilities. While there is no harm to using the app for entertainment, the way Tiktok is designed to be addictive in order to profit off from that is unhealthy and unfair.
There have also been concerns about the app becoming a place for grown adults to prey on young teenagers who take on trends such as dancing and lip-syncing. Along with the popularity of the app, it has also become a breeding ground for groomers and those who impose sexualization on minors. The hypersexualization of teenagers is often considered “validation”, topped with their inability to logically comprehend the intent behind those actions. Grooming has become very common, and several teenage girls have gone to extents to impose hypersexualization on themselves. Recently, there has been a trend of young adult girls settling down and getting into sex work. While there is no issue with sex work in itself, the normalization and idea of the sex industry as an easier way to make money is a result of grooming.
Sometimes, it doesn’t even take adults for teenagers to belittle themselves. Like in every other social media platform, there are cases of bullying on the application. As Tiktok is open to plenty of teenagers, these teenagers would film dances, lip-syncing, and clips of their daily lives, and get attacked by anonymous users on the comment section. Hate commenting can directly affect teenagers, especially as they are young adolescents who have very fragile self-esteem. On top of that, Tiktok often creates a subconscious competition that puts labels comparing body image, sexualities, race, and the like. Teenage users would go to impossible and unhealthy extents to meet those expectations that the app has set for them.
Tiktok can be an entertaining way to have fun through short videos. But there are also cons as much as there are perks. While teenagers may take it as inspiration for style and aesthetics, it can also potentially damage their self-esteem and make them want more than they should, envying others who do have what they want. Guardians should also pay attention and impose healthy limitations as the app is too open and possibly damaging. Hopefully, there comes a day where Tiktok and social media in general can just be a fun place to be entertaining and inspiring again.