This post was edited on March 20, 2023 by Cockapooluvr
TikTok is an app that has become increasingly prevalent over the past few years and is largely responsible for many of the fads and celebrity figures that are relevant today. However, with TikTok’s rise to popularity also came negative attention in regard to the app’s impact on its user’s mental health. This concern sparked a movement that caused many states to announce their investigation into TikTok. Many advocates feel as though the app is showing videos that promote eating disorders and filters that endorse unrealistic characteristics. This can be extremely detrimental to one’s mental health especially when considering that a majority of the app’s users are teenagers and children, both easily impressionable groups. It is because of this that TikTok is now implementing time restrictions for their younger users.
For additional background on the app, I personally noticed TikTok’s infiltration into my life around the beginning of COVID-19. It was during this time that videos, sounds, and influencers seen on TikTok became a common course of conversation. And, looking at the social media platform, it’s no surprise that the app has become so addicting to so many users. You can scroll for hours watching videos from all different genres, all short enough to maintain your attention span. Not to mention, each person’s For You Page is unique and features videos that the app knows will entice its specific viewer.
With all of the negative press surrounding the app, TikTok has responded positively to the questioning and assures their public that they want to “support the well-being” of the TikTok community. Since this conversation last year, TikTok has taken a large step in the past few days that appears to be for the benefit of their younger users. As mentioned above, TikTok is now implementing a safeguard where users under the age of 18 have a set daily limit for how long they can be on the app. These users will have 60 minutes of scrolling and if they wish to use the app for a longer amount of time, they will have to make a conscious decision to enter a passcode. Additionally, this time limit was not decided solely by TikTok. They consulted researchers and experts from the Digital Wellness lab at Boston Children’s Hospital, in order to make an informed decision. Due to an increased rate of depression and research showing that less screen time can increase self-image, this was arguably a positive example set by TikTok. This gesture also shows that TikTok as a platform is showing more concern for the people using their app as opposed to the number of clicks and money, they can make off of people spending more time scrolling.
However, no decision can be made without criticism, and this was no exception. It was pointed out that upon hearing about this new adjustment, users under 18 may lie when downloading the app so that the restrictions will not apply to them. Additionally, while limiting screen time does have its benefits, it doesn’t ensure that young individuals aren’t still being exposed to triggering content. It could take a mere five minutes before they scroll upon something that negatively impacts their mental health or wellbeing.
Will all of the pros and cons to be said about TikTok, as a user with various forms of social media I do feel that TikTok is making moves in the right direction. In the world that we live in social media is here to stay, whether we like it or not. It is heartening to see a platform that can listen and attempt to respond to the criticism they receive.