TikTok 101: Threats and Benefits to Teenage Users

TikTok 101: Threats and Benefits to Teenage Users

Teens with phones glued to their hands is no recent phenomenon. Still, there’s an app that managed to capture their shortened attention spans more than any other in the past, and it’s worth looking into the reasons why. 

Despite all the controversy surrounding it, Chinese-owned TikTok is the next big thing for young people’s self-expression. Let’s explore why every person under 25 seems to be obsessed with this social-media powerhouse.

TikTok 101

Communication is essential for managing your teen’s behavior, no matter the topic. However, social media sometimes eludes older generations, and all the jargon and novelty makes this platform especially hard to grasp.

What Is TikTok?

In essence, TikTok is a video-sharing app. People record themselves, add soundtracks, and apply filters to create short chunks of appealing content. 

They also follow other accounts. When they open the app, their feed shows an assortment of random posts. The algorithm is quite sophisticated, making the feed match the user more with each passing day. This mechanism is at the core of the platform’s addictive quality. It offers an endless stream of videos, always providing something original to watch.

TikTok and Memes

Another factor that launched this platform into popularity is its potential for meme creation. It’s easy for any user to repurpose another person’s video and offer their take on the idea.

As a result, new fun content arises, inside jokes pop up, and people feel like members of a friend group in their virtual spaces.

How TikTokers Make Money?

It’s unlikely that your teen makes any profit from TikTok, even if they post regularly and to a large audience. 

There isn’t a monetization mechanism, only a tipping tool during a live stream. Influencer marketing is also possible, but money isn’t a big part of why most users join the network.

A Haven for Gen Z

Looking at TikTok demographics, it becomes obvious why teenagers are so in love with the network – all their friends are there. 

At the same time, older generations tend to overgeneralize the content coming from this network. Reviewers paint it as a spot of lip-syncing, dancing videos, and vanity. Your teen might’ve felt that way before, too, but suddenly had a change of heart. Now they can’t get off the app.

The nature of this app ensures that young people see those they follow as relatable. In effect, TikTok appears more authentic than the polished Instagram posts and heavily-edited YouTube videos. The elusive generation Z likes that.

Plus, it’s easy to find something for everyone among the massive demographics, from dogs, to politics, to comedy. The subcategories help each user find a corner of the world that accepts and likes them.

Relatable Communities for All

There are indisputable benefits teens get from using social media. Consider what they gain from the app before you scold them for always being on their phone.

A Source of Entertainment

Smartphone apps can be distracting and overwhelming, but they’re fun. TikTok boasts endless hours of entertaining content, keeping the users glued to the screens.

A Space for Socialization

TikTok is fantastic for forming connections and making friends with people who share the same interests, but not the same postal code. As parents know, it can be challenging for some teens to make friends in real life. Using an online social platform makes them feel safer and more confident to express themselves and contribute to social communities.

A Creativity Outlet

Teens are incredibly tech-savvy, and they’re taking advantage of the digital networks like TikTok to find creative outlets. 

Plus, the anonymity of TikTok relieves pressure and helps teens put themselves out there creatively with a lower risk of damaging their self-esteem. A digital layer between a young person and their on-platform persona makes it easier to feel confident about exposing themselves.

For example, if they don’t like how they look on a video that day, they can open Facetune’s retouch app for TikTok to edit it quickly and post without obsessing about a perceived flaw.

Sense of Community

According to teens who spoke on the topic, TikTok reminds them that they’re not alone. They want to feel accepted and surrounded by like-minded people, and this platform provides them with that feeling.

Potential Concerns

All this to say, TikTok is not inherently a dangerous platform for teens, but it’s on you as the parent to consider the potential hazards and discuss them with your child.

Fear of Missing Out

While it’s fantastic for young people to communicate with others of their age online, there’s a flip side to the benefit. Since a majority of teens are on the platform, not using TikTok might make a teenager feel excluded.

Sexual Predators

Any app filled to the brim with underage users is a potential place of operation for sexual predators. Older users might join and be 100% harmless, but some might show up and start sending explicit messages and images to children. 

The best thing for you to do is talk to your child about what’s acceptable and what’s not, especially if they’re younger. If a stranger to your teen is asking for personal information or making them feel uncomfortable, have them promise they’ll tell you if something of the sort happens. This way, you can assess the threat together and decide if it’s harmless or harmful.

Privacy Issues

Young people are generally less aware of privacy concerns that stem from posting one’s life online. They might film in front of your house, show off your car, or share locations that compromise privacy.

So, discuss privacy and consider installing a VPN service on your child’s phone, especially if they have a large following. You don’t want strangers showing up at your door uninvited.

Self-Esteem and Self-Image

When a person posts a video online, they expose themselves to an endless potential of negative comments coming their way. While a 30-year old might brush these off with ease, teens are just developing their self-image, and negative words could leave a lasting impact. 

Watch your teen for increasing signs of insecurity, anxiety, or other mental health issues, and talk to them if you notice something seems off.

Mostly Harmless

It would seem that if your child had to be addicted to one social network, TikTok is far from the worst option. 

While you should impose some restrictions for younger teens, overall, there’s no harm in them finding a community and a way to express their hobbies and personalities.

It’s a safe spot for young people to get together when meeting in person isn’t an option. However, watch their smartphone usage and make sure they know everything about the potential dangers. With an awareness of threats and red flags, they should be able to enjoy their virtual spaces happily and safely.