EYE 2 EYE: TikTok

Pro: TikTok: creating a global community 

People who renegade together stay together

By: Bailey Andera

Tiktok – the app some have dubbed the virtual lovechild of the old Musical.ly (its predecessor) and Vine – has gained roughly 800 million active users per month from around the world since its debut in September 2017. Whether you live in Tokyo or in Los Angeles, there’s no doubt you’ve been hearing chimes of Lil Kapow’s “BLACKOUT” in your sleep.

However, as TikTok’s fame continues to skyrocket, the question remains: is it safe, and if so, are there any benefits to using the app?

I understand the apprehension that the platform can create in kids and parents worldwide. I grew up with two parents who were extremely aware of the dangers of the internet and have thus been raised the same.

However, I’ve found that if used responsibly and safely, Tiktok can be a great forum for all sorts of people, no matter if you’re an aspiring dancer, actor, comedian or artist. I can scroll through my “for you page” and watch 15-second clips of an incredible work of art being made from Crayola markers, and then immediately move on to a guy wearing a dress made entirely of fuzzy, hot-pink worms-on-a-string.

Additionally, Tiktok can be a hub of shared interests — people can use the “Duet” feature to join in on another user’s video, and comment sections are oftentimes a web of compliments or responses to the video (which can sometimes be funnier than the actual video, too).

Naturally, there will always be those people who choose to abuse the seemingly limitless spaces of social media: the creeps, the givers of bad or fake advice or the jerks who have nothing better to do than rag on some 15-year-old girl dancing. This, however, is an occupational hazard of being an active participant of any online community.

Though the platform can be a rather daunting fixture within the media, it is important to remember that there are multitudes of ways to use Tiktok responsibly to ensure a positive experience for users. Ultimately, it poses no more of a threat than Instagram or Snapchat; having an online presence will always offer some level of risk, and it is up to users to navigate with enough caution to stay out of trouble.

On the flip side, Tiktok can be an opportunity to meet, express talents with and laugh alongside people from all over the world. The internet has provided us with the opportunity to expand our views on a global scale, and if that means sacrificing my ego by attempting to (awkwardly) dance in my room at one in the morning, then that’s a price I’m willing to pay.

Moral of the story: enjoy Tiktok, like you would any other app. We should stay aware of the cautionary measures necessary to keep experiences safe and fun, but to let a fear of the internet and what it offers completely take hold is to miss out on a major opportunity.

Scroll responsibly, but do keep scrolling – it’s worth it.

Con: TikTok: the breeding ground

Why supporting an app can be dangerous

By :Rebecca Oddes

A global rising phenomenon, TikTok has integrated itself into 150 different countries, with over 1.9 billion downloads as of 2020. With so much influence in young people’s lives, wouldn’t you want to know what’s really going on behind your screen?

I’m going to admit, I have downloaded it and was even addicted at one point, but after deleting the app for a couple of months, I began to realize all the subtle horrors that were berating my eyes for hours a day.

The way that TikTok is designed is to keep you on for as long as possible, for example. When you open the app you immediately see a random person lip-syncing to a popular song or ‘Renegading’ their heart out. You then scroll down to see the next video. Scrolling down instead of to the right or left feels more natural, and so you are not always aware of how many videos you have watched, according to Gnizak

Nowadays, it is hard to not be on social media. Most high school students have an Instagram or Snapchat, and sometimes even Twitter, and I think that is great. It is good to keep in contact with people you normally can not. I do believe that once social media starts to take a negative turn is when we should be wary. Even with restrictions and rules, it is hard to keep everyone safe on these apps.

According to an April 2019 report by BBC News, TikTok failed to remove predators from its app. They say that they remove content and users who seem to be inappropriate, but do not respond on how, or how often. They target young kids, mainly females, commenting inappropriately on their videos. There have been cases where parents have come forward about their children being groomed on the app. Grooming is when a pedophile prepares a victim for a meeting, normally through inappropriate activities on chat rooms or social media platforms. 

According to Newsweek, TikTok is one of the top 15 apps that have the worst predator problem, beating out Instagram, Snapchat and other social media platforms. This is not something that can just be glossed over, and we should not stand by and allow ourselves to be supporting something that allows this sort of behavior. 

To try and protect younger audiences from creeps online, TikTok has put age restrictions on the app. Although the recommended age to download the app is 13, we all know seven-year-olds who are using the app. It’s so easy to lie about your age on social media, and with young minds so easily vulnerable, and without proper education on the app, young kids are getting swept up in the social media scene and all the issues that come with it.

TikTokis also a breeding ground for romanticism. I am not talking about the kind in Romeo and Juliet, but the kind that idealizes things to make them seem way better than they actually are. In my short time on the app, I noticed a slue POVs of the “hot guy” pretending to be a serial killer or kidnapper preying on girls, or people showing off their drastic weight loss in a way that is appealing to younger audiences.

How can we sit by and let something as unimportant as an app control our lives and mental health? We consistently have an incredible amount of pressure on ourselves as it is, so why are we adding onto it? We put ourselves in an endless downward cycle of self-criticism and false fame when in reality those things are unimportant. I do not want to support an app that damages mental health and invades the minds of younger generations.

By limiting your time on the app or finding other activities to do besides scrolling through Tik Tok, you can help improve your mental state, as well as giving less power to the app. With users spending more time hanging out with friends, going outside, and not so much time staring at a phone, you can protect other young people and find new things to do with your time.

TikTok is an app, but that’s all it is, there is so much more to life than a silly box on a screen.

 

COMMON GROUND

  • Social media can present a danger to those who do not use it properly.
  • Age guidelines should be followed in terms of app usage.
  • It is important to monitor time on the app and not get carried away.
  • There are people on TikTok who abuse it and should be monitored. 
  • TikTok holds a certain amount of influence over the lives of people who use it, whether positive or negative.