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  • Natalie Garcia
    Natalie Garcia

    TikTok and Teens: A Troubling Combination?

    Are we aware of the potential harm that the latest social platform, TikTok, may be doing to our teens? With its fast-paced 15-second videos and auditory and visual stimulation constantly entering their brains, it’s no wonder why over 800 million users have embraced the app. While teenagers may think they're simply having fun watching dance challenges, lip-syncing songs, or seeing funny craze-worthy posts and hearing silly catchphrases, the misuse and abuse of the app can be harmful to their development.

    Recently, TikTok has become a popular site for sexting, cyberbullying, and even advertising for drugs, which is an extreme concern for parents and caregivers raising teens in today's digital age. For example, comments written in texting-friendly abbreviations often come with suggestive words, such as "DM 'Direct Message' me" and "infested with thirst traps," often with creepy user names like “@thesexmaster1000” or "@gigglegirlgirl69."

    Moreover, there are even repercussions outside of mental health. With the click of a few buttons and the sliding of a finger, teens have access to thousands of accounts that even showcase and glamorize dangerous eating disorders and self-harm tendencies like cutting and suicide. Unfortunately, this is becoming increasingly popular amongst our young adults, making it easier for kids to compare themselves to their peers and encouraging them to take part in activities that could end up being fatal to their physical health.

    The actual content featured on TikTok has also been linked to research that shows online media can create increased addictive behaviors in teenage brains. This has led to what has become known as “TikTok Syndrome”, essentially a dependency on the video viewing, sharing, and creation behavior that this platform provides. With 90 percent of users under the age of 34, it's easy to see how hard it is for certain teens to keep up with the trends and feedback from within the app, especially when so many users have hundreds of thousands of followers.

    There’s a hidden dark side to the app that isn’t often seen. Cropping up are stories of sexual harassment by adult predators who will claim to be someone else’s age, take advantage of the user’s desire to become famous, or even send explicit messages behind the anonymity of the app. Also, our teens can be exposed to inappropriate content featuring hate speech, violence, nudity, and inappropriate conversations.

    While there are definitely positive aspects of TikTok, we must evaluate the potential harm by educating our teens about how to responsibly use the app, setting boundaries and parental controls, and staying aware of any changes that may arise. We should also not forget to monitor their activity and listen to their conversations about the app. There are numerous platforms out there that can be both enjoyable and safe for teenagers, but if we want to be sure that our kids are staying away from those that may do them harm, we have to examine TikTok’s risks and have necessary conversations with our kids about their well-being.

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  • Notice: Some articles on enotalone.com are a collaboration between our human editors and generative AI. We prioritize accuracy and authenticity in our content.
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