jealousy, jealousy

Students, social worker reflect on implications of social media usage

Photo || Hibba Mahmood
Sophomore Ella Williams poses for a selfie. Williams says she enjoys social media because it allows her to interact with people who share similar interests as her.

When was released in 2014, it quickly gained its spotlight within two years with 90 million users. Since ByteDance Ltd. acquired Inc. in 2017 and merged it with TikTok, the app has amassed a significant number of users and influence over internet users, with over 750 million monthly users worldwide in 2022.

It comes as no surprise that the Generation Z, the newest generation of people born after 1997, is often referred to as the TikTok Generation, with around six in ten teenagers considering themselves to be a regular user of the app. According to a study conducted by The Guardian, a majority of teenagers in the United States have an account on Tik Tok with 67% of the teenagers in the sample saying they have ever used the app and 16% saying they use it “almost constantly”.

Ella Williams, regular Tik Tok user and creator and sophomore said, “I started using Tik Tok around 2015 when it was still It was pretty much the only form of social media my parents let me have at that age, I thought it was pretty fun, and l have had it ever since.” Williams added, “Most of my content consists of me talking about animated shows or any other shows I find interesting. I interact with a bunch of fandoms because it’s fun to talk to other people who enjoy the same things as me.”

Many users like Williams enjoy producing content for fun, while some have content that blows up and they start using TikTok as an official content creator.

Angela Peng, TikTok and YouTube creator and senior said, “I like to go on and make random videos just for fun. It’s also nice to copy some of the trends on (TikTok) that are easier to replicate.”

TikTok has been a rising platform among Generation Z students, and this trend can be seen within the student population at CHS.

“If I’m watching content that puts me in a good mood or makes me feel relaxed, then I’ll likely have an overall positive mindset the rest of the day. My mental health has been pretty well balanced throughout the years,” Williams said.

Peng added, “I think TikTok is a huge platform nowadays and it’s setting so many trends too. I like going on to see what’s trending.”

However, with the rise of new social media platforms like TikTok, there are differing opinions on how healthy the use of these platforms really are, especially on younger generations.

According to Marc Faddoul, co-director of Tracking Exposed, a digital rights organization investigating TikTok’s algorithm, “The app provides an endless stream of emotional nudges, which can be hard to recognize and really impact users in the long run. It’s not going to make anyone depressed overnight, but hours of consumption every day can have a serious impact on your mental health.”

Williams said that she agrees that the app can have some negative effects on its users. “I will admit the app is pretty addictive, and it can get a little toxic sometimes,” she said.

These concerns have primarily been prominent due to many users being to medical professionals after seeing videos on TikTok about their symptoms, suggesting the widespread influence it has on its users.

“I remember (once) I saw a trend of people on TikTok being mean to this performer who was opening up for Chase Atlantic on tour,” Peng said. “It annoys me because it’s so disrespectful to the artist, but why hate on her so much. She didn’t do anything wrong. So I think TikTok can be toxic in that way.

“(I think) as a social worker, an important thing is looking at the different things (such as) in your life that might be influencing these feelings of depression or envy,” said Gabi Goldstein, licensed clinical social worker. This suggests that social media apps could have a major impact on one’s mental health. “I am strength-based and person-centered. It helps you better understand what direction you want to take as a clinician (when working with clients).”

Peng said she disagrees. “I think I used to be a little envious when I was on when I was really young, but now I don’t really care,” Peng said.

Similarly, Williams said, “I can definitely see why some people feel envious of the lives of popular creators, and I think it varies from person to person, but personally the feeling of envy or jealousy just went away at some point.”

Despite the downsides, social media apps can be a creative way to connect with diverse groups of people and create networks that otherwise would not have been possible.

William believes that TikTok has allowed her to create new friendships that she wouldn’t have created if she did not have the app.

“I feel like I have made many friends on TikTok. I am able to meet new people from around the world that like the same things as me, or sometimes people that find me on their for you page will come up to me at school and start a conversation,” she said.

Modern social media platforms have gained their popularity through their ease of use and ability to get noticed by other users.

“Personally, I can’t choose between TikTok and YouTube, since I make content on both. I feel like these apps are just both very enjoyable to use.” Peng said.

“I have both Instagram and Twitter, but I feel like TikTok pushes your content out more than other social media apps like Instagram, and I think it’s overall more entertaining.” Williams said.