TikTok is the hottest social media app of the day. One of the most prevalent concerns of parents is the effect it can potentially have on their children's mental health. Some argue that using TikTok can be harmful to youth. Others claim it can benefit their self-esteem. While both sides offer legitimate arguments, we'll try to be as objective as possible. In this article, we will explore various ways TikTok can affect today’s youth.
1. It’s Entertaining
While many argue that social media outlets, such as TikTok, can be distracting for youth (remember, users have to be at least 13 years of age to use this app), the fact that they are using it simply to be entertained can't be denied. TikTok is full of comedy sketches, duets, and interesting dances, all of which are very amusing for viewers. Additionally, because TikTok is so darn popular, teens can feel left out if they aren’t using it. The fear of missing out (FOMO) syndrome can be a real thing for them.
2. It Can Be Good for Making Friends
TikTok is considered a social network because it offers great potential for making new friends and forming new connections. This platform has millions of users worldwide, so it can also be great for inclusiveness. Some teens are naturally shy, so making in-person friends can be difficult. However, social media removes the pressure of communicating directly, face-to-face, making it a lot easier for some to express their thoughts, feelings, and make new connections.
3. It Can Be a Good Creative Outlet
While it might not appear so from the get-go, there is actually an art to making good TikTok's. For example, when making dancing videos, you have to choose between different filter options, make suitable music choices, and think of and execute interesting dance moves. When making TikTok comedy sketches, you have to come up with a script and think of fun ways to act everything out. So, there is some method to the madness, which can be beneficial for teens' self-expression and creativity. 4. It Offers Earning Potential It is widely-known by now (especially by teens) that TikTok creators are among some of the the top paid in the influencer world. Currently, there are dedicated TikTok scouting agencies, dedicated TikTok creator houses, and a whole set of sponsors waiting to show off their products to their target audiences through this platform. Although only a small percentage of users get to this lucrative point, there’s always a chance that your teen might make it in the TikTok industry.
1. Your Teen Could Potentially Get Exposed to Sexual Predators
While the platform is working hard on mitigating issues concerning sexual predators reaching out to underaged kids, this issue is still prevalent on TikTok. Even though the platform is aimed at younger users, there are still many older users too, which is completely fine – who are we to judge how you express yourself!? However, if these older individuals send explicit messages and images to teens (or worse, to kids who should not be on the app in the first place), it becomes problematic. There have been numerous instances where parents had to report predatory behavior to law enforcement. So, beware!
2. It Can Harm Privacy
Also, TikTok can harm yours and your teens’ privacy. Generally, teens aren’t aware of the privacy concerns that come with putting their lives on display for others. Often, they film in front of their homes, show off their homes' interiors, share their locations, show off their parents' cars, and display license plates, etc. The world is full of crazy people, and it only takes one bold enough to use this information for malicious purposes. That’s why you should consider installing a VPN on your teen’s device. What is a VPN? VPNs are software solutions that act as a gateway between the user and the web. They will conceal the user’s original IP address, ensuring that their online activities remain private and secure.
3. It’s Prone to Negative Comments
Negativity is a prevalent issue with all social media platforms these days. The more one uses a platform, the greater the chances of receiving negative comments. Even the platform’s top creators have expressed concerns in regards to negative comments. Even they feel worried and insecure when reading them. Negative comments can severely impact one’s self-esteem and confidence, and even result in self-harm or body image issues. Teens must be resilient if they are going to use this app to post videos.
4. It Can Harm Self-Esteem This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. A large volume of negative comments, or even a single one, can have a devastating impact on a kid’s self-esteem. TikTok, and other social networks, such as Instagram and Facebook, have been criticized for having negative effects on one’s confidence. This can deeply hurt one’s mental health. There have been instances where kids turned to self-harm or faced other issues, such as anorexia and bulimia, because of social media.
How to Protect Your Teens
The number one way to protect your teens is to ensure they are learning how to protect themselves and their friends when they use apps like TikTok. By getting digital literacy lessons in school they learn how to protect their privacy, manage their reputations, avoid cyberbullying and sexting, and learn how to report bad behavior. It is essential that kids get these lessons.