As the world becomes more and more connected through technology, social media platforms have become a staple in our daily lives. One of the most popular social media platforms among young people today is TikTok. With over 1 billion users and more than 30 million active users each month, TikTok has become a go-to source of entertainment and social interaction for millions of people. However, experts are now raising alarm about the negative impact that TikTok may be having on mental health.
On the positive side, TikTok allows people to connect with others who share their interests and passions. It also provides a platform for creative self-expression, allowing users to showcase their talents and connect with others who appreciate their content. Additionally, the app encourages users to engage in healthy activities such as dancing and singing, which can improve mood and reduce stress.
But one of the main concerns about TikTok is the pressure it puts on users to constantly create and share content. The platform is built around the concept of short-form videos, which encourages users to create and share content on a regular basis. This pressure to constantly create and share can lead to feelings of anxiety, stress, and burnout.
In addition to the pressure to create content, TikTok also has a heavy emphasis on validation and engagement. Users are constantly seeking likes, comments, and views on their videos, and the lack of validation can lead to feelings of rejection and inadequacy. Dr. Jean Twenge, a psychologist in San Diego State University in an interview with CNN has said that teen depression and self-harm started to rise since 2012 following the increase of mobile phones and social media use.
Another concern with TikTok is the potential for cyberbullying. The anonymity and lack of accountability provided by the platform can lead to a toxic and harmful environment, where users can be bullied, harassed, and targeted without any consequences. The anonymity of the platform can also lead to a phenomenon known as ‘finsta’, or fake Instagram accounts, where the users can post negative comments or derogatory content about their classmates, friends or anyone else.
Furthermore, TikTok’s algorithm can be especially harmful to young users. The algorithm works by showing users content that it believes they will find engaging, which can create a sort of echo chamber, where users are only exposed to a narrow range of content. This can lead to a distorted view of reality, where users begin to believe that their lives should be as perfect as the ones they see on the platform.
Even the US government has banned the social media app on all Federal Government issued devices. The US government has banned TikTok on federal government-issued devices due to national security concerns over its China-based parent company, ByteDance. The US fears that the Chinese government may leverage TikTok to access those devices and US user data. TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter said the company was “disappointed” that Congress moved forward with the proposal and that it was “a political gesture that will do nothing to advance national security interests”.
Overall, it is important to be aware of the potential negative impact that TikTok and other social media platforms can have on mental health. Parents, educators, and young people themselves need to be informed about the potential risks and take steps to mitigate them.
It is important to set boundaries, limits and have open conversations with the children and teens in your life about the responsible use of social media. Encourage them to take breaks and engage in other activities, monitor the time spent and the type of content that they consume on these platforms, and to seek help if they or someone they know is struggling.
The social media giant itself has put out various statements in response to the backlash of its negative impact on users. In the statement, they said: “One of our most important commitments is supporting the safety and well-being of teens, and we recognize this work is never finished. We continue to focus on robust safety protections for our community while also empowering parents with more control for their teen’s account through TikTok family pairing”
In conclusion, while TikTok can be a great source of entertainment and social interaction, it is important to be aware of the potential negative impact it can have on mental health. It is up to all of us to take responsibility and take the necessary steps to mitigate these risks and promote healthy use of social media.