TikTok Tests Teens’ Mental Health

Yakob Beshir, Staff Writer

The for-you page: a glamorous assortment of dances, jokes, and other content that social media platform TikTok has assembled to fit your exact needs. Endless scroll and seemingly infinite videos to watch means spending hours sucked into the TikTok algorithm.

But designed to be addictive, and filled with attractive individuals, TikTok’s rise has made some high schoolers feel self-conscious as they are absorbed into watching the lives of people who curate their pages to look perfect.

TikTok has become the second most downloaded app in social media history with more than 1.5 billion downloads. The app’s target audience is children and teens. But that demographic is particularly impressionable, and many feel like the app has taken its toll on their mental health.

Documents published from The Intercept have shown that Tiktok has told its moderators to “suppress people who look ugly to attract new viewers.” This allows people who download TikTok to see more of the “good looking people” and less of “ugly looking people.” 

Critics have asserted that this can affect a teen’s health by making teens see conventionally good-looking people and then look at themselves and think less of themselves.

A study done by The Department of Health & Human Services has shown that 13% of 12 to 17-year-old kids who go on social media apps such as Tiktok reported depression and 32% reported anxiety. 

And students at this school have experienced some of these feelings. “I don’t post often but I do see other classmates comparing themselves to other TikTok creators on their own body image,” said Lukas Abasolo (9). “It makes me see the sad reality that kids my own age see themselves like that.”

Some students here also had their mental health changed because of TikTok’s algorithm. “Life was fine at first, but when Tiktok came around I became addicted and saw myself being slowly sadder and anxious than usual,” said Christian Francis (9). 

But for those seeking an escape from TikTok’s potentially negative effects, some relief may be only a delete button away. “Now that I’m on the app less often, I can say that my mental health has improved greatly,” said Christian.