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TikTok’s Negative Impact on Teenagers’ Mental Health

by Catherine Devins

​      Like millions of other people in Generation Z, social media has become a fundamental part of my daily life. In my “tween” years, that awkward stage between childhood and teenager, platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Musical.ly started to become a more prevalent topic discussed among my peers. My parents were initially very unsure about allowing me to immerse myself in this new world of social media. I can still vividly remember my twelve-year-old self sitting on my parents’ bed, begging them to let me download Instagram. At the time, my mom’s perception of social media was solely negative; she thought I would see posts from friends and feel sad that I wasn’t there, or compare myself to people I saw online, but that was the least of my concerns. My twelve-year-old self already felt left out and isolated, as I was missing so much that was happening only online. I couldn’t see my mom’s point, nor did I want to. However, as always, I learned down the road that she was right; social media has many downsides, some of which can be extremely damaging to mental health. 

      Throughout my early middle school years, the social media platform Musical.ly was very popular; Musical.ly would let its users create and publish short lip-syncing videos, which I always found to be extremely entertaining to both make and watch. I would spend hours in my room learning lyrics to teen-pop songs and repeatedly record myself lip-syncing the words. Looking back, my thirteen-year-old self spent way too much time on Musical.ly, and on my phone in general. However, at the time, it seemed like a harmless way to express my creativity. Musical.ly gradually became less popular, most tweens and teens stopped using the app, and it seemed to simply disappear after a while. 

      Fast forward a couple years to my freshman year of high school, when I started hearing about an app known as Tik Tok. Initially, Tik Tok was a resurrected version of Musical.ly that was created to rebrand the app. Rather than just lip-syncing, Tik Tik allows users to post five to sixty-second videos of virtually anything, from dancing to talking to simply staring at the camera. Over time, Tik Tok turned into a deceiving, highly competitive, narcissistic app that allowed unhealthy perceptions of the “standard of beauty” to shine through. Tik Tok encourages a culture of likes by constantly influencing people to look and act a certain way. 

      A large percentage of teenagers, including myself, use TikTok every day, which inevitably makes this social media platform have a strong impact on how we see ourselves and others. I find myself constantly comparing myself to people I see on the app, and often come across users bullying each other for not looking or acting a certain way. While Tik Tok is very entertaining, it also creates a toxic and unhealthy environment that has negatively affected my confidence and my overall mental health. As I go into my junior year of high school, I have learned that the best way to improve my mental health is to simply delete Tik Tok. So far, this method seems to be working quite effectively, and I can say confidently that I am a much happier person than I was a couple of months ago.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

If you need help, please click the link below 

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

1-800-273-8255

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