TikTok trends tarnish teenage minds


Dana Gaudette

Staff Writer Katherine Wu argues that TikTok trends have negatively altered many teenagers’ lives and become a mindless distraction.

Katherine Wu, Staff Writer

“Wanna make a TikTok?” 

I’ve heard this sentence way too many times whenever I spend time with my friends. The next thing I know, we’re waving our arms in front of a phone and posting it with our fingers crossed, waiting for the likes to pour in.

One thing that makes TikTok, with over one billion users, so appealing is its algorithm. The idea that anyone could get brand deals and thousands upon thousands of followers just by making one 15-second video is amazing, but what are teens doing to achieve their 15 seconds of fame? 

While videos take less than a minute to watch, it can take hours to learn the app’s popular user-choreographed dances or find ideas for comedy videos. So while this can be a fun, creative way to spend time, it can also become all-consuming. With users posting millions of videos each day, it is virtually impossible to consume all the content on your never-ending “For You Page” (FYP) or get onto the page yourself. However, this doesn’t stop people from trying as they endlessly scroll through video after video, losing hours trying to stay caught up.

Even though many teenagers, such as small-town girl turned star Charli D’Amelio, were able to gain millions of followers from just a few dance videos, this phenomenon is rare with the number of teenagers competing to become the next big influencer. 

Another appealing yet potentially destructive aspect of TikTok is the trends. This past summer, there was an influx of dieting and “how to lose five pounds in a week!” videos on the app. Many, if not all of these videos, encouraged teenage girls to basically starve themselves and possibly develop eating disorders to lower the number on the scale. 

These types of trends create unrealistic standards for teenagers. Losing five pounds in a week is simply not healthy. 

Some teenagers have even died following trends to pursue fame. According to Healthline, a 15-year-old teen died after doing the “Benadryl challenge” in August. The TikTok trend encouraged teenagers to take excessive doses of Benadryl to get hallucinations. 

Other harmful or insensitive challenges that originated on TikTok include the “Holocaust challenge” (which encourages viewers to dress up like concentration camp survivors),  “Nutmeg challenge” (which encourages overconsumption of the spice to cause hallucinations), “Hot coil challenge” (which encourages people to burn themselves on a stovetop heating coil) and the “Skull-breaker challenge” (which involves two people kicking over someone’s legs to make them fall over).

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Not only have TikTok trends affected people’s lives, but some users’ academics have been affected as well. TikTok tends to glorify treating school and academics as a joke. For example, around the time of the online AP exams in May, the “For You Page” was clogged with teenagers filming themselves entering song lyrics into the AP submission boxes and then submitting their tests. Obviously, there is no way of passing with submissions like those, and I can’t begin to imagine why someone would want to potentially screw up their future just to get some likes. 

Now I know there are many good and harmless trends on the app, but following and looking at these trends can be a fine occasional distraction but too easily becomes a time-consuming addiction with little to no reward. 

Next time you want to scroll for hours, think about what else you could be doing with your time, whether it be studying, baking, or FaceTiming a friend. Trust me, a good grade, delicious treat, or deep conversation will be much more rewarding than hours of mindless scrolling.