In the age of adolescent internet addiction, new social media sites and apps are created and released as frequently as possible. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and previously, Vine, are a few of the notable ones we teenagers gravitate toward. But the app TikTok, a relatively new addition to the battalion that was released in September 2016, has grown in popularity faster than virtually any other program. Of all social apps that seek to entertain our overly stimulated minds, TikTok is perhaps the most controversial.
TikTok was created on the backbone of the since-exterminated app Musical.ly, which peaked during my middle school years. TikTok, however, took on the role that Musical.ly inhabited and adopted many of the formalities of Vine, a video-sharing app that was also deleted a few years ago. In the last year and a half that I’ve been a participant in the rage that is TikTok, I’ve found it’s not only addictive — I check mine several times a day — it’s also incredibly entertaining.
Originally, like many other teens, I thought TikTok was both juvenile and pathetic. The original content on the app was questionable, filled with unfunny pranking videos and poor lip-syncing compilations. Over time, however, the culture within the site changed, and as a result, so did the content. Now the videos, many of which are made by teens, include information about social and political activism, tips on the college application process and various cooking lessons. The app has made significant strides in accomplishing less superficial goals and allowing members of Generation Z to share their voices and opinions.
Over the summer, a coalition of K-pop (that’s Korean pop music) fans used TikTok to organize a protest of President Donald Trump, reserving rally seats intended for supporters. Many teens of various social, economic and political perspectives have similarly used the app to unite, coerce and educate others on the basis of their beliefs.
Of course, less impactful videos still reign on the app. There are makeup tutorials, hip-hop dance performances and comedic quips. Isn’t that the case, though, on all social media platforms? Some components of any teenager’s life are the superficial values and interests we hold. We like to film ourselves dancing and being goofy with our friends and family. These qualities don’t make TikTok any different from any other app used by Gen Z.
In my time on TikTok, I’ve learned to believe that of all the social media programs I use, it is the least competitive and judgmental. We teenagers have a strong tendency to compare ourselves to others, especially on the internet. However, I see this happening far less on TikTok, which makes me more comfortable expressing my opinions and just being myself on this app than any other.
I believe TikTok has a positive influence on many teens, myself included. It’s a place teens can learn, laugh and grow if they use it wisely.