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Is Tik Tok Worth the Expense of your Mental Health?

by Aafreen Mohammed

TikTok, the short-form video sharing app, has exploded in popularity among teenagers over the past few years; especially during 2020 during COVID lockdown where extensive periods spent indoors meant the app grew in popularity. While it can be a fun and entertaining platform, concerns have been raised about the effects it may have on teenagers' mental health. One of the primary concerns is the potential for TikTok to cause feelings of anxiety and depression. The constant scrolling and comparison to other social media platforms (Instagram and Facebook) can mean that one person is constantly exposed to different content at a larger volume. Also, the exposure to others' "perfect lives" can lead to feelings of low self-esteem which can be harmful for teenagers who are still developing their sense of self and identity.

Unhealthy body Image

Body image issues are also prevalent on TikTok. With many users focusing on physical appearance, there's a risk of unrealistic beauty standards and body shaming. This can lead to low self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, and even eating disorders. Furthermore, the constant exposure to different people's views on weight loss, beauty standards and healthy eating can be draining; it is important to understand that everyone is different and something that is fit for someone else may not necessarily be fit for you. Famous Tik Tok star Anna Paul perfectly describes the beauty in differences in her stitch explaining how "another person's beauty is never the absence of your own" she then goes on to give an analogy of how the stars and the ocean are both beautiful but despite being nothing alike, it does not take anything away from their beauty. I think this is important to consider when coming across things in life that make you put yourself down, you are enough!! the next level?

Cyberbullying is one of TikTok's main problems. Due to the large number of users, there will be more viewpoints expressed, which will result in conflicts between ideas and beliefs. In TikTok, cyberbullying may manifest itself in a variety of ways, including trolling, hate speech, the disclosure of sensitive information, and the use of fake profiles to harass people. TikTok's design is one of the reasons why cyberbullying is so common there. The app encourages users to produce and share viral videos. Nevertheless, this also implies that users can become the subject of online abuse and harassment, especially if they have a sizable fan base. The app's anonymity function also enables users to build fake accounts and hide their identity, making it easier for them to harass others without consequences.

The effects of cyberbullying can be devastating, particularly for young people. Victims may experience anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, and in extreme cases, may even contemplate self-harm or suicide. Cyberbullying can also have long-term consequences, such as impacting academic and career opportunities and creating a negative online reputation.

To address the issue of cyberbullying on TikTok, the app has implemented several measures. For example, users can report abusive content, and TikTok has a team of moderators who review and remove content that violates the app's community guidelines. The app also offers a range of resources for users who have experienced cyberbullying, such as advice on how to report abusive content, and links to support services. However, despite these measures, cyberbullying remains a significant problem on TikTok. To combat cyberbullying, it is important for users to be aware of the issue and to take steps to protect themselves, such as limiting the personal information they share online and being vigilant about who they interact with on the app. Additionally, parents and educators can play a vital role in educating young people about the risks of cyberbullying and how to stay safe online.

Too much scrolling

individual's mental and physical health. For starters, excessive scrolling can lead to physical symptoms such as eye strain, headaches, and neck and back pain. Additionally, constantly scrolling can disrupt an individual's sleep patterns and lead to fatigue and insomnia. From a mental health perspective, excessive scrolling on TikTok can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, particularly if users are comparing themselves to others or feeling left out of online communities. It can also be a major distraction and impact productivity, as users find themselves spending hours on the app instead of focusing on work or other important tasks. Moreover, the content on TikTok is often curated to be addictive, and users can find themselves spending more time than intended on the app, leading to a loss of control over their time and attention. To mitigate the effects of excessive scrolling, it is important to set limits on app usage and take regular breaks from the screen.

Trauma exposure

Exposure to traumatic content on TikTok can have a significant impact on an individual's mental health and wellbeing. TikTok users may come across videos that depict violent, graphic, or disturbing content, such as footage of assault, accidents and death. Exposure to traumatic content can trigger feelings of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can also lead to physical symptoms such as difficulty sleeping and panic attacks. Repeated exposure to traumatic content on TikTok can desensitize individuals to violence and trauma, making it harder for them to empathize with others and process their own feelings.

It is important for individuals to be mindful of the content they consume and to take steps to protect their mental health. This may involve setting boundaries around app usage, avoiding triggering content, and seeking support from family, friends or mental health professionals when needed.

Tips to improve your mental health on Tik Tok :

  1. Limit your scrolling time

  2. Filter what shows on your feed

  3. Stand up for others that are being bullied on Tik Tok- if you see a comment say something!

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