Since its introduction in 2016, TikTok has become one of the leading social media platforms globally. While the app has grown from strength to strength, primarily because of its short and addictive videos, it has also attracted serious criticism. Parents and policymakers have widely criticized the app for its negative impact on students. On December 15, 2022, Wyoming became the first state and political region to ban TikTok for students and other educators. Today, 32 out of the 50 states in the USA have followed suit, limiting the platform’s use in various ways. While there are claims that these moves have been politically instigated, the detrimental effects of TikTok addiction on students’ productivity, academic performance, mental health, and time management can’t be ignored. In this short piece, we’ll address the elephant in the room, separating myths from reality, and painting a holistic picture of the app and its impacts on learners.
Educational and Creative TikTok Activities for Students
The disadvantages of TikTok for students are well documented. But it’s not all doom and gloom for the Chinese app. Many users have found safe spaces for entrainment, motivation, and learning within the platform. In this section, we explore some of the leading educational and creative TikTok activities that can enhance students’ learning experience.
DIY science experiments
Students can conduct fascinating experiments using household items. For example, some have made videos on sewing torn clothes, cleaning stubborn stains, and making simple home gadgets for optimizing small spaces. These simple videos are eye-opening and curiosity-raising.
The simplest forms of art are often the most intriguing. TikTok has allowed students to share their creations. Simple art forms like face painting, eyebrows drawing, room decoration, and lawn design have taken the app by storm as students express their creativity.
The earlier creations that took TikTok by storm were mainly language based. Many users shared quick language lessons, vocabulary tips, or pronunciation exercises in exciting and entertaining ways. The UK vs. USA pronunciation skits were especially more exciting. These simple tricks have helped many students write better essays and research papers.
TikTok has a vast collection of mind-bending riddles and puzzles posted by users. While most of them are for entertainment, they are also vital tools for exercising critical thinking skills. One example from the site is: “I speak without a mouth and hear without ears. I have no body, but I come alive with wind. What am I?” The answer is an echo. Did you guess it right?
TikTok provides a creative outlet for students to showcase their musical talents. They usually share their dance routines, tips for writing lyrics, and musical performances, fostering creativity and self-expression. Additionally, those with unique skills often share mini-music lessons on playing an instrument, e.g., piano, flute, guitar, and drums. Others dwell on explaining music theories in simplistic ways.
If there’s one sector that TikTok has completely taken over, its book recommendations. In the past, readers depended on select individuals and publishers to identify books to read. Today, however, thousands of users on TikTok share book reviews and recommendations to inspire reading among students. Most of them are younger enthusiastic people who’ve just read their first few copies. If you don’t know where to start, you can head over to TikTok or try professional services like CustomWritings to get your essay written online. This company provides not only book recommendations, but also detailed reviews and analysis.
Last but not least, TikTok allows students to collaborate with their peers by creating group projects or challenges. This is especially common for math tricks, historical facts quizzes, geographic knowledge, and practical life hacks, among others. These projects encourage teamwork, foster a sense of community, and promote a shared learning experience.
Disadvantages of TikTok for Students: The Deadly Addiction
Despite the advantages shared above, using TikTok can easily get you sucked into the endless scroll with dire consequences. Even those who join the platform with clear objectives can easily be distracted. Below, we share the main cons of TikTok for students:
Many consider TikTok one of the most addictive apps today. In fact, it’s for this reason that many jurisdictions have limited its use. The instant gratification that comes with sharing content on the platform has a chokehold on many students, who share endless videos daily. It’s common to see teenagers shooting multiple videos in hours to upload on the site. This is worsened by the app’s constant reminders to upload new content. The dopamine rush from receiving gifts and likes from followers has hooked many users. When students spend their precious time recording videos, sharing them, and scrolling through other users’ uploads, doing other meaningful things becomes difficult. Many parents have complained of their children spending the entire day on the app without helping at home or engaging in other productive activities. While some full-time TikTok users are making significant earnings, most aren’t. For them, the time spent on the app is meaningless and could only impact their futures negatively.
Poor academic performance
For the most part, getting high grades requires working hard. A student must put in hours of studying, exercises, and revision to succeed. This is only possible through concentration and little to no distraction. Kids who are addicted to TikTok hardly find the right balance. They spend excessive time on the app, reducing the time and energy available for focused and effective studying. Moreover, they may rush through assignments or study half-heartedly, resulting in subpar performance and lower grades. If not addressed on time, such kids may have their futures ruined!
Threat to life
This is one of the conspicuous cons of TikTok for students. Some of the challenges that have gone viral on the platform have attracted wide backlash for various reasons. Some young people have lost their lives trying crazy things. For example, the “Skull Breaker Challenge,” where participants trick someone into jumping and tripping them while in the air, caused several injuries. Not to mention the “Outlet Challenge,” where individuals insert the prongs of a charger into an electrical outlet, risking electrocution.
Finding a Balance Between Entertainment and Productivity
TikTok, just like other social media sites, isn’t inherently bad. It’s an excellent source of entertainment, fun, and education for many. In fact, many young people are earning a living on the platform. However, young users should be reminded of the disadvantages of TikTok to make informed decisions. The platform’s design and endless push to post new content can distract and harm unsuspecting kids, leading to a decline in academic performance, health risks, reduced productivity, and psychological distress. Therefore, it’s critical to balance entertainment and productivity.