It seems strange to say that TikTok was first created in 2016, as 2020 seems to be the year that it properly blew up; since merging with the app ‘Musical.ly’, there’s no surprise that younger generations are the most interested in what the app entails. But now, it is only growing bigger and bigger. With its age range widening, and celebrities such as Ed Sheeran joining, it’s no wonder the app that was once seen as childish is now popping up on everyone’s screens.
But this new phenomenon has quickly turned sour; with an increase in “immoral and indecent content.” Pakistan has already banned TikTok in their country, and President Donald Trump is threatening to do the same in the USA. This prompts the question, is TikTok actually safe for children? What are its aims and intentions? Is TikTok truly a dangerous place for young people or is this just an overreaction from the older generation who do not understand the benefits that TikTok brings to popular culture?
As a nineteen-year-old without TikTok downloaded on my phone, you may question how I can have a sufficient understanding to write this piece. The proposition I want to put forward is that if a social media user scrolls on their Twitter, Instagram or Facebook feed, a TikTok video is highly likely to come up. Jokes circulate the same platforms, suggesting how addictive the app actually is. Before I had even considered downloading the app, these memes had already put me off; why would I want to download something that I know is addictive?
Watching the Netflix documentary, ‘The Social Dilemma’, opened my eyes to why creators of these apps want us to stay addicted, and how they manipulate our newsfeed to generate the largest amount of money for their company. As the newest form of an addictive platform we may be able to guess why TikTok would be banned; to stop children (and now adults!) from being more addicted to their phones than they already are, to stop the increased spread of dangerous trends such as ‘diet’ and ‘cancel culture’ and to stop people comparing themselves to such an altered perception of reality. With TikTok influencing other apps to create their own version of the craze, such as Instagram Reels, it is troublesome to think we may never escape consuming this, even if we don’t have it downloaded. A ban may be needed to stop this content from becoming increasingly damaging.
However, I may be giving TikTok a hard time. After all, the disadvantages I just mentioned could be applied to all social media apps. So why does everyone hate TikTok, specifically, so much? I feel inclined to mention what advantages the app can bring. The biggest positive influence we can interpret is the one on music; many small artists have had their music sampled and blow up as a result of people dubbing them over their videos. A great example is Jawsh 685 collaborating with Jason Derulo to make ‘Selfish Love’ or Niko B’s ‘Who’s That What’s That’. Small artists find joy in creating unique dances that are easily followed and therefore recreated and spread all over the world.
What I find most important, however, is educational TikTok. Although a lot of TikTok videos are just jokes and silly dances, I have also seen therapists sharing tips for positive mental health, professional chefs teaching easy recipes, and fashion designers teaching us how to re-work clothes. This could mean that a ban may actually cause a negative impact on popular culture, as it has taught and enriched a lot of us, myself included, in many different ways.
The thought that many of us share is why, in a pandemic, do world leaders choose to focus on banning an app? Surely, they have more pressing things to be dealing with, such as focusing on giving their hard-working professionals the correct PPE that they deserve, but have failed to receive? Some may say that this is just another step towards population control, with those in power reminding us who is the boss of who. Some may say that the app deserves to be banned, as it controls children’s lives. I’ll let you decide.
By Natalie Horrobin
Image: via Pexels free photos