Is TikTok Causing More Harm Than Good?

Is TikTok Causing More Harm Than Good?

In recent years, Tiktok has become an online sensation that almost every teenager has heard of or used. Many consider it a platform for learning and sharing interesting facts or trendy dances. However, concerns about the security and overall negative impact on teens have led to discussion and a call for it to be banned. In 2022, there were TikTok bans on devices controlled by state governments in almost 30 states including Iowa, Alabama, and Georgia. However, the ban on TikTok may go beyond that of government-controlled devices and some U.S. officials are calling for a national TikTok ban which would include our personal devices. 

Most teenagers use TikTok to learn, de-stress, and connect with others. Genesis Kim, a sophomore at FLHS expanded on this by sharing her own experiences and opinions on TikTok.

 “A lot of people on TikTok can come together and create a sense of community,” Kim said. “I feel like TikTok is one of the first major social media platforms where teenagers can come together to speak up about their experiences and relate with one another.”

Additionally, TikTok has been used as a social media platform that helped students gain an excellent creative outlet. For example, when dancing, teens can choose a filter and music, and when TikTok comedy sketches, you have to devise a script. This can benefit a teenager’s “self-expression and creativity.

“I use it every day,” sophomore Kristen Jiang said. “I think it influences me to try other and new things such as beauty hacks, finding new shows, snack ideas, and the latest fashion trends.” 

Although TikTok helps to build community among adolescents, exposure to the app TikTok can be dangerous as it has detrimental effects on the mental health of teenagers. Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate experimented to test the TikTok algorithm by liking videos about serious topics such as self-harm and eating disorders to see how TikTok’s algorithm would respond. Within seconds of them liking these videos, TikTok recommended videos about losing weight and self-harm showing how TikTok fails to protect young users from harmful and explicit content. 

“I feel that the consequences of social media can cause mental health issues in teens today such as anxiety, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity,” sophomore Sofia Suleymanov said when asked her opinion on the effect of social media on teens’ mental health. “I have seen firsthand how TikTok has influenced how I feel about certain topics and myself.”

According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, teenagers experience a “culture of comparison” when using social media such as TikTok which can be challenging and can exacerbate feelings of isolation and depression. 

“Lately, TikTok has some people post some inappropriate content and this is shown to everyone. Kids and teens see these things and could leave them down a bad path or just scarred,” sophomore Luis Peralta Carpio said.  

TikTok also provides its users with a plethora of filters that can change someone’s appearance which can give teenagers the idea of not being good enough because what they see in the filter is not the same as what they see in the mirror in real life. This can result in more insecurities. 

“All over social media platforms, there is an image of influencers that set high standards for themselves,” sophomore, Abilena Sholomova said. “I think TikTok, like all other social media, has its flaws when used in the wrong way,” 

TikTok users often judge what they see and can comment on videos. Although many users find their videos entertaining, the bullying that comes with some of these comments and reactions can be inescapable. 

“It’s an app known for having people speaking their minds and just like those spreading positivity with their words there are those that spread their negative views,” Peralta Carpio said. “This may cause certain people targeted by these ideas [and become] insecure or develop more insecurities than before.”

TikTok has been referred to as “digital fentanyl” due to the addictive, destructive, and negative impact that constant social media has on the younger generation. Abilena Sholomova considers both sides of this TikTok debate. 

“Not only do some people use the TikTok platform for a nice and positive environment for teens but, others take advantage of the platform and give teens a fake truth that can be harmful to them, especially to their mental health and overall aspect of life,” Sholomova said.

The House of Foreign Affairs Committee had voted for a bill that could give the president authority and permission to ban the app entirely. However, as of now, universities and government-controlled technology have banned the use of TikTok on their devices and we still have access to TikTok on our private devices.

“I feel like TikTok shouldn’t be banned but just be limited,” Sholomova said. “I don’t believe that TikTok should be banned without any valid reason because a lot of people use it in their everyday lives and it helps them grow in a lot of ways.”

Peralta Carpio elaborates on this by sharing his own opinion on the possible TikTok ban. 

“Teens are better off without TikTok. It gets teens that use it addicted to it. This leads to teens procrastinating and not paying much attention to their surroundings,” Peralta Carpio said. “TikTok is entertaining and it lets people share their ideas freely most of the time. This is why it’s one of the top apps on the App Store. Although this is the case, it doesn’t seem to benefit teens in the long run.”