After years of feeling and acting like an old man, I am finally bowing down to the inevitable social media crazy…let’s talk TikTok.
For the uninitiated, TikTok is a video platform. You can create short, snappy videos – as long as three minutes but usually a minute or less – that are chock-full of original content, voiceovers, graphics, text, high-quality editing, and more. The platform has become huge of late. Consider:
- TikTok now has over one billion monthly users – 130 million of those are in the United States.
- TikTok has been downloaded more than 2.6 billion times.
- 32.5% of TikTok users are 10-19…meaning that tens of millions of literal kids are using the app.
- Users spend an average of 52 minutes a day on the platform.
So, if you’ve read my blog before, you’ve heard me rail about the evils of social media and mental health…like, literally folks, I did it last week. At the same time, we’ve got to take a more nuanced view of social media, because there is no question that it can also have its mental health benefits.
And that brings me back to TikTok.
TikTok’s user base is skewed young, and this means that there is ample opportunity to communicate with this demographic – a demographic that unquestionably needs help and resources when it comes to mental health. It also presents amazing opportunities for people of this age group because it gives us a chance to speak their language.
As noted by USA Today, TikTok is providing mental health tips and tools to users like never before. Individuals are sharing their experiences in therapy and what they learned from it. Therapists are giving out bite-sized pieces of advice on the app. And people are destigmatizing the issue by sharing their personal story’s.
TikTok, to their credit, seems to be taking their potential role seriously. The app has started to unveil mental health and suicide prevention resources for people who use certain search terms, like suicide.
Here are some examples of great TikTok users when it comes to mental health:
Now, that being said, it’s not all roses. TikTok has some extremely toxic users: Their algorithms encourage like-minded videos, and within a few short hours, someone can go from transphobic or fake science content to literal Nazis. Its short videos can further degrade our already eroded attention span. The app has also been accused in the past of culling its algorithms to keep content from disabled individuals suppressed.
So, what’s the conclusion? Duh…I’m not qualified to give it. I do think TikTok has real mental health potential, however. There’s a lot of good people on the app. I just think that you, as a parent, have to be engaged in how your teen uses internet content. Make sure to give them the education they need to independently evaluate such content and do what you can to monitor their social media use and ensure that it is being done in a responsible manner.
As always…help. I welcome your thoughts. In fact, we need them! What do you think, and what can we do, as adults to make TikTok better for our kids? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!