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Is TikTok Harmful to Adolescents’ Mental Health? Examining the Risks and Benefits of the Popular App

TikTok Teen MH

TikTok exploded in popularity over the last several years becoming a cultural phenomenon around the world. Its rapid adoption has seen more than 150 million Americans become regular users of the app. No demographic has flocked to this new form of social media more so than adolescents and young adults. The short-form video platform allows teens to create and share content that showcases their creativity and hopefully makes them go viral. However, as its popularity continues to soar, concerns about the potential impact on adolescents' mental health have emerged. In this blog, we will delve into the risks and benefits of TikTok, exploring its influence on the well-being of the younger generation.


The Benefits


  • Creativity & Self-Expression:
    Everyone wants to be seen and heard. TikTok provides a platform for teens to express themselves to the world. Whether they’re showcasing their music, comedy, or some other creative outlet. This can foster self-confidence and self-worth, create a deeper sense of identity, and advance hobbies into lifelong pursuits. 

  • Community Building:
    The reality is that more and more our kids are building their groups of friends online. TikTok facilitates the creation of communities centered around common interests, obstacles and popular trends. It provides an online space to connect with other teenagers from around the world who are like-minded. Humans need to feel a sense of belonging - even if it’s in the digital world. 

  • Learning Opportunities:
    While most of social media is based around entertainment, there is a ton of educational content on these platforms as well. On TikTok users can find videos on a host of topics from science and technology to history, language learning, and more. The app provides a unique way for teens to find information they can engage with in an accessible way. 


The Risks


  • Cyberbullying & Negative Comments:
    Most online platforms run the risk of cyberbullying due to the anonymous nature of the users. Unfortunately, with adolescents already being exposed to bullying in school, this can transition into the online realm as well. Teens may be more at risk to the psychological impact of online harassment. It can take a toll on their self-esteem and confidence.

  • Body Image Concerns:
    As adults we know that the majority of the images we see on social media have been filtered and enhanced to create an idealized version of beauty. For impressionable teens, being bombarded with content that emphasizes appearance and unrealistic beauty standards can wreak havoc. Body image issues and self-worth can plummet when faced with this kind of content on a regular basis leading to unhealthy coping mechanisms like eating disorders and self harm. 

  • Addictive Nature:
    All social media platforms are designed to keep the users on the app and constantly engaged. Your brain receives a steady drip of dopamine hits as you scroll, prolonging your usage. TikTok is no exception; except their algorithm feeds you content at a faster rate than most, shortening your attention span. Excessive time scrolling on a screen can lead to complications with sleep, academic performance, and overall well-being. The constant dopamine hit you receive using the app can create an online addiction. 

Stay Vigilant


Ultimately, social media is not going anywhere. Like with most things, there are good and bad use cases. There are real concerns about TikTok’s impact on teenage mental health but there are also valid reasons for your child to be on the app. The best we can do as parents is to monitor the screen time of kids, teach them safe and healthy online behavior, and help them navigate the storms of adolescence - whether they occur online or in real life. Keep an eye on your kids. Notice any changes in behavior and establish open lines of communication. 

If you are worried about your son or daughter’s mental health, call Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center today. We’re a family owned and operated treatment program that knows firsthand what it’s like to have a child struggle. We’re here to be of service to you and your family. Call today.