TikTok: Way to Relax or Waste of Time?

by Olivia Katz, Staff Writer 
First it was Facebook, then came Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Musical.ly, and in 2019, it is TikTok – a social media video app used for sharing short videos. In August 2018, the Chinese Internet technology company, ByteDance, bought Musical.ly and combined it all into one app: TikTok. The new social media app took the world by storm, particularly kids in middle and high school. What’s not to love about an app where you can share comedy, talent, and lip-sync videos? And how has it affected the kids at Latin? 
The app is not for everyone. “TikTok is a waste of time that just distracts kids from doing their homework,” said junior Macy Krambeck. Macy’s opinion might stem from the fact that she does not personally have the app; but she admits that almost all of her friends do, and they are all big fans. Junior Milana Jozwiak, an avid TikTok user, disagreed with Macy’s claims. “Because the videos are so short, it’s a great way to take a break from my homework. I’ll go on it for two minutes to relieve some stress and then get back to my work.” 
However, senior Maya Passman believes the short videos are the cause for the app’s addictiveness. “It takes up a lot of time for me because the videos are so short that I just get so lost in them.” Maya seems to be describing something similar to the ‘YouTube black hole’ – when someone goes to YouTube to watch a Khan Academy video and somehow ends up watching videos of babies laughing or cats jumping. 
Junior Emily Hesby’s experience with the app tells a similar story. “I thought TikTok was annoying until I downloaded the app, and now it’s kind of obsessive.” When asked if TikTok was taking time away from her schoolwork, she replied “Definitely. There were a few days after I got the app where instead of doing my homework when I got home from school, I just watched TikTok videos.” Emily explained that while she does not even make many videos herself, she gets lost watching other people’s videos. “It’s like a vacuum, like an addiction. I use all of my screen time in the TikTok app,” she said. The same goes for many popular social media apps, like Instagram and Snapchat, but for some, TikTok has taken over. 
While a good chunk of the school is hooked, it seems like freshmen use TikTok the most. McLaine Leik confirmed this fact, explaining, “I think it’s the most popular form of social media for freshmen at the moment.” Nearly all of her friends use the app, and she knows that it distracts them from other activities. But if it is not damaging kids’ schoolwork or grades, what’s the big deal?
Mr. McArthur learned about the app from the news and even occasionally searches for videos himself. When asked about his feelings on the app, he said, “TikTok seems pretty cool to me. I don’t really ‘get’ it, but I acknowledge that teenagers do get and love it.” He experienced the hold TikTok has on teens right now during the advisory TikTok competition a few weeks ago. “My advisory got pretty into the TikTok activity, which surprised me, as often they just want to do homework instead of whatever activity is assigned.” In this case, TikTok brought the community together and can serve as a stress reliever in the middle of the day. 
While many find TikTok to be a homework distraction, students – and teachers – are quick to defend the app. It is a playful social media app, and frankly, it takes no more time than other popular social media apps. Whether it is a five minute homework break, or a long procrastination session, everyone can use a mental break from the rigorous academic curriculum at Latin from time to time.