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VOX Bubble: How Is TikTok Impacting Teens’ Mental Health?

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In the Spring 2022 school semester VOX ATL, in partnership with Sandy Springs Together, is teaming up with members of North Springs High School’s student newspaper The Oracle to facilitate journalism and creative media workshops, with important conversations about what is going on in teens’ lives. In one of our recent sessions teens were invited to voice their opinions on a range of topics they feel passionate about. Unanimously, they chose to speak on the impact the popular smartphone app TikTok is having on teens’ mental health.

With TikTok being popular among young children and teens, it is very important to be wary of how prolonged use of the app can affect that population. As a result of concern surrounding the app and the different ways it affects the minds of the young users, these teens share their thoughts.

Read below to hear what many of them had to say.

TikTok has affected our mental health by creating a high standard for us. We see what other people enjoy but we might not be at that level. So we overthink and destroy our mental health to get to that “level.” – Ansley B.

The controversial app TikTok undoubtedly affects mental health, but I think the way it does depends on the viewer. People who have already been exposed to and diagnosed with mental health issues benefit from seeing other teenagers struggling with those same issues. That way, they are included in a community that understands their struggles and can give suggestions of how to improve their mental health. This same community is the reason that for some people, TikTok hurts their mental health. Mental health issues are often glorified on the app to remind those who have them that they can overcome their challenges to enjoy life to the fullest. This can cause some people who do not have mental health issues to fabricate a disorder, whether intentionally or not, to be included in this community. This leads them to harm themselves to feel validated in the community, which they may not have done otherwise. -Sarah M.

Although TikTok has taught us nifty hacks and tips like whipped coffee and minimalist lifestyles, it has also created droves of negativity for its mostly teenage audience. TikTok has created an environment where teenagers are thrust into a world of mind-numbing entities. On such an app with an algorithm that favors those who fit societal norms/preferences, teens often question and critique themselves. In addition to appearance-based insecurity, teens are also encouraged to court after followers and likes, a digital and almost fictional currency that rules the lives of many. Not even purposefully, teens allow themselves to be pulled into the depths of fiction, altering their reality and views of themselves. – Courtney S. 

TikTok mental health depends on the side of TikTok that you are on. There is the safe side, for people of minorities including but not limited to people who are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, neurodivergent people, and feminists. There are sides of TikTok that exclude these people. And that is the toxic side of TikTok. – Gabi L.

There are many different viewpoints on whether TikTok has had a positive or negative effect on teens’ lives. TikTok creates a false reality of what people are supposed to look like and how they should act. This can spark insecurity among teenagers, as they are still finding themselves and learning to grow. TikTok also praises people who are more attractive, this is known as “pretty privilege.” They give them the ability to do certain things that people who are not as “attractive” cannot do. Cancel culture is also very active on TikTok. People may make an inappropriate comment or post, and they could end up getting consequences as bad as death threats. Cancel culture can be good in some ways, but for people whose comments were misinterpreted, it can ruin their lives over a misunderstanding. – Abby S. 

TikTok is a sensation among tweens and teens across the world. However, being a social media platform, it can affect one’s personal well-being and mental health. Depending on your stance with the app, you can be on a side of TikTok where you are with people similar or completely opposite to you. Although I believe that TikTok overall helps with mental health, as it helps establish connections with fellow teens across the world. – Andrew M. 

TikTok is toxic for so many reasons. It has created fatal challenges and false realities that have pushed insecurities onto everyone who has a normal body and created a very poor “escape” for many kids stuck in quarantine. But for me, it has been more than this. It has been a place that has taken advantage of my weakness and sadness and allowed me to create a false sense of hope for the world around me. Let me start off here, as a Black girl who has tried her best to see the best in people, TikTok left me gullible during the summer of 2020. A point in my life where I realized how much the world around me, quite frankly, hated me. And during my sad moments, I would go on TikTok and see video after video of people supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, saying that they saw me, heard, and wanted to listen to me! But this is when I found out what performative activism is. Performative activism from Wikipedia’s description is “activism done to increase one’s social capital rather than because of one’s devotion to the cause.” Initially, I didn’t realize that that was what was happening, until I started doing my research on the several murders at the hands of the police in 2020 alone, and I found an article about performative activism.
-Mairen B. 

I believe TikTok 100% influences a lot of today’s generation, Gen Z. TikTok creates unrealistic standards for young women and men to look a certain way and act a way to receive endless likes and fake fame. It shames and ridicules different-looking people and can give a platform for that unprecedented hate to be spread across the internet. On the other hand, some sides of TikTok encourage self-love, healthy habits, and embracing yourself and others for who they are. Genuinely, it depends on what side of TikTok you’re on. TikTok definitely influences the generation.  Phoenix R.

TikTok can be a great place where people can express themselves and create content about things they love. Unfortunately, there are many people [who] don’t want people to have fun on the app. They will “troll” and make fun of people just for having fun. TikTok used to be a safe place where people can dance and make jokes. Now it can be a very dark place; people have been falsely accused of things and banned from posting. Others have been bullied off the app. TikTok is not a safe place for those with a weak heart. -Roman M.

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Social media platforms have been a controversial topic throughout the decades, and swept in the negative ambience of these conversations, is TikTok. Negative impacts of this app form inviolable thoughts in young and growing minds that should be nurtured in a comfortable and positive environment. One user counts the amount of calories on food videos, which creates hostile and pro-eating disorder mindset along fellow followers. -Emily P.

TikTok is an app that became popular in 2019. It has received people’s attention, and it can be addicting. People love using and doing dances as well as trends on TikTok — from dance trends to things that become trending in general — and some things that shouldn’t be or become a trend, like serious topics that some people can be sensitive to. There is also a negative side of TikTok that involves bullying, death threats, negative comments, etc. People [who] are deemed more attractive and who fit social beauty standards have an upper hand in the world, and they have a chance of many opportunities that others don’t have. For example, someone might post a TikTok about themselves feeling confident or doing a haul of stuff they got and feel good about it, and people will “like” and affirm it. However, if someone leaves a negative comment on that post, and if more people start to leave negative comments under it, then the person who posted that TikTok will probably feel hurt by the mean and negative comments people left. The result is…the person’s self-esteem would make them feel like they have a lack of confidence and compare themselves to others, and maybe they would also start to feel insecure, like they have to look like people who are deemed more attractive and they feel like they have to be perfect. -Paloa O.

TikTok, since its beginning, has been terrible in its design. The final nail in the coffin that was the pursuit of knowledge. Its very design is insidious to me, as it allows a constant flow of information for which no break is necessary. Content is both so rewarding and easy to produce that enough is produced every day to entertain you from dawn to dusk. It might be the beginning of something even worse, where man is flooded by a hedonistic flow of constant, watered down entertainment, with no need to take a break. It’s not interesting enough to get you thinking, but it has just enough of the slightest promise of stimulation that you keep scrolling.  The effect it has on its users is extremely evident. Users making insulting recreations of abominable events such as the holocaust or the September 11th terror attacks, not only blatantly faking and misrepresenting, but glorifying mental disorders such as Disassociative Identity Disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Asperger’s Syndrome, etc. for all the world to see and are eligible to receive nothing but resounding validation from their echo chamber. This is extremely damaging to those who are diagnosed with these disorders, both in their reputation among their peers and their view of themselves. Cray B.
The app “TikTok” has been the most used app since its release in 2016. It is an entertainment app that includes user-made videos that varies from pranks, stunts, and tricks to jokes, inspirational speakers and dancing. TikTok has become considered a distraction to teenage kids since its release. Teenage kids have been on their phones way too, becoming a problem with Screen time hours. A negative effect TikTok has on teenagers is that they are on their phones way too much, with most of the time from using TikTok. Another negative effect is certain pranks that have gone viral on the app have inspired teenagers to get in trouble. On the other hand, a positive effect TikTok has on teenagers is the app being entertaining and very enjoyable. Nathan D.

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