TikTok: The New Teen Phenomenon


Erin Hong, Staff Writer

You’ve probably heard of the word “TikTok” at least once over the course of this year. Maybe you have the app downloaded on your phone, or maybe you have made a video go viral, or maybe you have absolutely no idea what the app is about. The new wave of TikTok is insane; at times last year, the app ranked higher than Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. Its popularity has been steadily growing since its launch in 2017 by the Chinese developer ByteDance. According to MarketingHub, it ranked number one in terms of worldwide downloads during Q4 of 2018. It’s interesting how far this app has come; its popularity now seems to reach no limits. 

Now, why is TikTok so popular among teens? To try to answer that question, I’ve interviewed an avid TikTocker, Kaitlyn Jia (’22) on the reasons she thinks TikTok is so adored by people across the US and even the world. She says that it’s because “TikTok is relatable, but also not.” She elaborated further that “people do funny things that happen in our everyday lives and have relatable content, like people struggling in school. They’re funny because you can actually relate to all of them and you understand what it’s like. It’s also not relatable because there are things like ‘couple goals’ which you just keep watching because it’s cute and you really want to be one of those people with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or a celebrity, or a person that you admire.” 

TikTok stars are also coming into the light. You might’ve heard of the handsome Mark Anastasio and his friends or the 15-year-old Charli D’Amelio, whose fame has reached so high that she had the opportunity to perform at a Jonas Brothers concert. TikTokers like them earn a little more than just pocket money; according to DailyVoice, Charli D’Amelio makes between $2,056 and $3,427 per post!

Another reason for the popularity of the app is that all the jokes and funny content are all compiled into one short video that you can watch for a few seconds; it’s not a big contribution of time to make or watch, unlike other apps like YouTube. Maybe the best of all (or the worst, since the app is so incredibly addicting) is that you’ll never run out of videos. You scroll and scroll and scroll, and there’s continuously amusing content, getting funnier and funnier. As a TikToker myself, I could spend hours on the app scrolling video after video without being able to acknowledge time passing by. Almost every single person that I’ve interviewed have agreed that TikTok is indeed a distraction from their schoolwork, and they admit that their time, which was supposed to be used to study, is spent on TikTok. It’s very easy to get carried away with the app, and it may be dangerous to some.

So, is TikTok the new teen phenomenon? Yes. Is it worth sacrificing your schoolwork to scroll for hours on end? That’s ultimately up to you to decide.