A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA

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A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA

SACMedia

A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA

SACMedia

Opinion: TikTok is a dangerous influence on today’s society

TikToks+dangerous+influence+on+society+today+cant+be+ignored.
Alex Ruiz
TikTok’s dangerous influence on society today can’t be ignored.

TikTok’s influence is dangerous to our society as it instigates detrimental habits that users unwittingly adopt.

Initially, a trendy and fun social media platform, TikTok has evolved into a rabbit hole of consumerism and bad influences on its audience.

Its allure lies in its short-form content, hooking its viewers with most videos spanning under a minute. Users oftentimes find themselves engrossed in endless scrolling, conditioning them to seek quick and compacted entertainment or information.

The app fosters users’ short attention spans and the need to be distracted quickly. Users can easily swipe through a video if they don’t like it to search for something that gets their attention. Not only does this habit start on TikTok but also starts to spread to other apps and eventually part of TikTok users’ lives.

According to “Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity” by Gloria Mark, a professor at the University of California Irvine, people averaged 2.5 minutes of focused attention when they were working online or doing something involving screens 20 years ago.

She also writes, “By 2012, that time duration had shrunk to 75 seconds. And by 2021, it had compacted to a measly 47 seconds.” TikTok will make this issue much worse as more people begin to use the app.

This feeds into people having the urge to get on TikTok and scroll through so many videos that are suited to satisfy the low attention spans the app has cultivated. All the young people using the app will start to develop this negative habit and will be accustomed to the need to consume more videos on TikTok to appease themselves.

It’s not just TikTok that is doing this now, other social media apps such as Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat feature short-form content. This type of content will be the norm going forward and its legacy will be the continued deprivation of attention spans in society.

 

 

The TikTok Shop has risen in popularity in the past year all throughout the app. People are selling clothes and other items for low prices to such a large audience. With the reach that TikTok can provide, it’s made it easier for people to sell, buy, and promote products.

When you look at the TikTok Shop, it’s interface looks like a duplicate of Shein – a popular website that is the poster child of online fast fashion. Many of the products on the TikTok shop are sold for very low prices and incentivize buying more through videos on the algorithm.

Most of the products in the shop are produced in Asian countries for a low cost and then sold on the marketplace. For example, many of the popular clothing currently being sold is manufactured in China. The country has a reputation for exporting lots of clothing and paying workers low amounts of money for their labor. With more products being bought on the TikTok shop, it incentivizes the fast fashion cycle and adds more demand to Chinese-produced clothing.

The rise of the TikTok shop also affects the environment due to the amount of energy needed to ship from China to your doorstep. Whether that’s through air travel or ship, it takes a good amount of fossil fuels to transport these materials.

A good amount of the clothing sold in the app is made out of polyester; a material made up of plastic microfibers which pollute the waterways when being washed. The need to highlight this is important as the environmental consequences won’t come to mind when you’re scrolling through all the low-cost products.

If you’ve bought something from the TikTok Shop, you’re aiding in the fast fashion ecosystem and its negative effects on the environment.

 

 

We have yet to even talk about the content that poses a risk for the app’s target demographic of young people. The app’s algorithm makes it easy to see content that users would be interested in on the “For You” page of the app.

The page keeps the user in an echo chamber that keeps feeding them the content they watch. That’s a danger when videos of extremist political ideas, sexualized content and misinformation spread throughout the app.

For example, 2022 saw the rise of controversial figure Andrew Tate and made him an online superstar despite his polarizing opinions. Not only was he all over TikTok but he became a huge influence for many of his viewers who believed in his strong gender stereotypes. It’s more possible than ever for a person with radical ideas to gain popularity and spread their agenda to the masses.

While the app has gotten better at taking down this sort of content, it’s still not enough to shut down other types of media. Sexualized content is prevalent throughout the app and aids the pipeline that leads to getting hooked to pornography. It’s not hard to stumble across this content which should be a worry to parents and young people.

TikTok is one way that people consume information and hear about world news. While this provides an avenue for people to be informed, it also can lead to the spread of misinformation. As I mentioned earlier, anyone can spread their agenda and thus people can be misinformed more easily than on other apps.

According to a study by NewsGuard, nearly 20% of the videos presented as search results contain misinformation. This is a high percentage and is likely to grow with the Presidential Election coming up in 2024. With how easily videos can go viral, this can be a dangerous tool to lead people away from the true facts.

The negative effects of TikTok are important to highlight as the app continues to grow in popularity and influences much of the youth. The app opens the door to many bad habits being developed for its users who have no clue what they’re opening up to – It is the 21st century’s Pandora’s box.

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About the Contributor
Alex Ruiz, Opinion Editor
Alex Ruiz is the Opinion Editor.

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