Image provided by Google.
Tiktok, created in 2016, is a social media platform with a whopping 689 million users. It allows anyone, 13+ , the ability to share, create, and watch short videos based on their personal interests. During the global pandemic, teenagers found themselves often inflicted with boredom, mainly because many weren’t used to having to stay at home all day and wanted to enjoy spending time with friends. As restrictions continued to build and the world was slowly shutting down, everyone found themselves searching for something fun to do in their free time. Many teens learned a lot of new things about themselves after downloading this app. Teens gained the ability to spend more time on things they were interested in, whether it was cooking or fashion related. Shyelle Wiggins, a junior at Washington states “ I like to watch Tiktoks that are mostly comedy or beauty related.” While Aaron McDonald, who is also a junior, says “ I enjoy watching Tiktoks about sneakers and music.”
Tiktoks’ feed is based on videos you’re interested in, and sometimes they’ll add in other types of videos as well. Viral videos appear on what’s called the “for you page.” It’s the main page on the app where you can find the top trending videos or audios through hashtags. Here are some hashtags that are trending as of September 15th on the ‘discover’ page: TiktokFashionMonth,; NFLKickoff; BerriesAndCream, which is an audio currently trending from a Starburst advertisement back in 2007; and Wildlife, for anyone that enjoys learning new things about animals all across the world. Giancarlo Vailetti a junior says “I learned that Nicki Minaj was my favorite artist, how to make matcha, and how to take better care of my plants. “ Vailetti was able to experience all these fun new things, inspired by the time he spent on Tiktok. As stated, everyone has different personal interests and with Tiktok teens can find content to enjoy whether they want to relate to creators, laugh a little after a long day of school, or learn how to play an instrument.
In the past it was common for teens to make fun of the app, saying things like “I only downloaded it as a joke.”Overtime, however, as Tiktok videos popped up on other social media apps, these same teens took it upon themselves to download it. McDonald explained “my use increased over covid because I didn’t have the app at first then I downloaded it.” He became further interested over quarantine as the app gained more recognition. From the start, Tiktok never really had an age limit; rather, it wanted the attention of adolescents. Now, it’s audience sparks the attention of elderly people who enjoy having fun.
Not only has Tiktok been a source of fun, but it has also been a way for musical artists such as Kaash Paige, Conan Gray, The Kid Laroi, Lil Nas X, and 24KGolden to get their starts. And, other types of art have gone viral, from painting and crocheting to creating a dance. Tiktok allows anyone the opportunity to share their content with the world. Wiggins and Valietti both stated that they watched comedy related videos on Tiktok. Wiggins said “ My favorite creator is @arrington171 because he is funny and relatable.” And Valietti said “My favorite content creator is @literally_Kathy_bates, because I find their videos funny”. Since McDonald shared that he enjoys music, he states his favorite creator is “…@acequickzayy because he posts about music I enjoy listening to.”
Although quarantine has ended and students are able to connect with their friends through in person school, it’s important to recognize the role Tiktok played on many young people during the rise of covid-19. Many teens until this day continue to use the app for the same reasons as before. Tiktok continues to shape new hobbies and interests for teenagers, and allows them to express themselves and inspires them to be more creative.