October 5, 2020
Generation Z is the first digital age generation that was raised up with technology available at every corner. Due to the current pandemic and social distancing we are seeing people connect through social media more than ever before. In addition to all the changes this world has gone through in the past year, TikTok has become a new social media giant keeping the world connected.
TikTok has a wide variety of followers that can find themselves spending hours on it each day. There are, however, some that are anti-TikTok due to the time it consumes. The questions and concerns are valid, but what about in the midst of a pandemic when the world is shut down? Is TikTok actually the one thing keeping the world connected, or is it the one thing that is hurting us?
In my personal experience, I downloaded TikTok early on just as it was starting to get big. I quickly saw a wide variety of users on this social media platform, from teens doing dances at youth group, to even parents doing dances with their kids on the app. I also noticed how TikTok was not simply being used to connect with friends and family, but rather it was being used for global unity. Rather than showing others their unique lives, people were now joining other random people by participating in common trends.
The New York Times said, “TikTok instead encourages users to jump from audience to audience, trend to trend, creating something like simulated temporary friend groups, who get together to do friend-group things: to share an inside joke; to riff on a song; to talk idly and aimlessly about whatever is in front of you”.
I found that my TikTok was constantly pulling from different people, dances, and themes each day as the app catered to me. After realizing this, I thought, “Is this healthy?” As the platform figured out which TikTok’s made me laugh more than others, I found myself spending hours on the app every day.
After about three weeks of having the app, I deleted TikTok. Choosing to delete the platform freed up a lot of my time to do what I wanted to do. As TikTok continued to evolve and become more popular over quarantine, it kept people connected, but also made them co-dependent.
In a study, JAMA said, “increased time spent on social media may be a risk factor for internalizing problems in adolescents”. Their conclusion that youth are experiencing problems related back to spending more time on social media isn’t surprising to hear. Social media itself may not damaging, but the way we use it can so often become a crutch to our lives. So how do we protect ourselves mentally while reaping the benefits of social media such as connecting people and bringing them together?
The first step to enjoying TikTok while protecting yourself is limiting your time on it. It is so easy to spend time on your phone and waste away your afternoon, but it’s crucial to set boundaries to decrease the amount of time spent on social media. Putting a time limit on your phone or scheduling out your day to dedicate thirty minutes to TikTok can help reduce time spent on the app.
The next step to protecting yourself from social media is developing different hobbies. Hobbies are needed for the mental wellbeing of a person. We were created to enjoy life outside of our phones, so find a different activity you love to do. Whether it is gardening, running, writing, or playing music, finding a healthy outlet allows you to clear your mind and reset.
The last plan of action is taking time to interact with people. Set aside time to sit and talk or go to social gatherings. We were created for community and TikTok by itself does not cut it. Having social interactions and going to social gatherings can help prevent you from feeling isolated, which often leads to depression and anxiety.
At the end of the day, TikTok can be a positive outlet, but it definitely cannot take the place of our only social interactions and hobbies. It is a fun platform, but it is so easy to let it completely consume our time. Remember you were created to enjoy life and it is important to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. If we do not stop to take care of ourselves today, we will only be hurting ourselves in the long run. Like most things, it’s important to find a balance while using TikTok. Just remember to practice self-control with the app, so that you are able to have the time for healthy hobbies and those important social interactions with people we were created to have.
Written by Riley Anderson
Riley is a junior majoring in Christian Leadership and Church Ministry with a minor in Biblical Studies.