The Digital Hand in Our Lives

The wildey popular social media app TikTok has a growing influence on today’s youth, and it’s becoming concerning.


Brooke Jordan

Junior Lilyanna Muniz logging onto the social media app TikTok during class.

As we have learned to grow “comfortable” with the 2020’s, amid a pandemic, polarized politics, global conflicts, and more, we’ve had an underlying influence at hand that has been ingrained into our lives.

This unseen influence is not a celebrity, or “influencers”, or advertisements, or those close around us; it’s a columation of those things, it’s the app we all have on our phones TikTok, which is growing to become the most influential social media app of the digital age, that has anamorphize itself into a celebrity, in and of itself.  

From 2019 to 2020, TikTok users grew 85.3 percent just in the U.S alone. That growth can be attributed to the national isolation in our houses and to our phones due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Narrowing it down to a daily scale, the U.S. has 50 million active TikTok users each day, proving that it has become embedded into our daily lives.

Dallastown teacher Mr.Mohar brings up the allure of TikTok, saying “…I think there’s an addictive element to TikTok. It’s easy to consume, it’s fast-paced, and it’s social.” 

And he’s right. These short, highly addictive videos have become easy to manage, and their content has become more susceptible to influence us through our fashion, music, trends, speech, self perception and more. 

A big way TikToks influence can be seen is in our fashion, a way we can express ourselves without saying any words.

Dallastown junior Gia Elliot has seen the apps influence on the fashion industry and feels that  “….TikTok has affected the way most people dress now, it lets people explore more into different styles and encourages a lot of younger people to express themselves through fashion.”

While expressing ourselves through clothing is an extreme confidence booster, the means of getting this clothing has become extremely flawed, shopping through pollution pumping fast fashion companies much like Shein. 

There’s a lack in diversity and versatility within the fashion that is popular now as well, with much of the trends being very similar and/or completely inefficient, lacking the flexibility to match with other pieces of clothing since it can only withstand in the mix of a micro trend.

To get a more in depth look at fast fashion’s unsustainability, check out Sophia’s article.

The music industry has also been completely swept over by TikTok and its influence, which makes sense since music either creates trends on the app or is just background sound to the video. 

A direct correlation between songs that chart on streaming services and the radio to songs that have gone viral on TikTok has been seen. Record labels have noticed this trend and aim to promote new songs on TikTok and likewise with single, independent artists.

The downside that comes with this is how repetitive these audios become, on the app and crazy enough, in person. 

Having become so invested in TikTok, we’ve begun reciting audios in other contexts outside of the app, creating a new digital vernacular for our generation.  

But, the hypnosis doesn’t just end there. 

Proxy culture is weird.

— Mrs. Yuninger

Trends that surface on the app, much like the “Devious Lick” trend, takes things too far. The obsession of gaining views and likes led teenagers to destroying school property, with complete disregard of others around them, except strangers on the internet. 

Seeing how easily teenagers have been influenced into doing absurd things by the fingertips of strangers, it only makes me wonder how the younger generations will turn out. 

Mrs.Yuninger, teacher and mother, expressed that “[TikTok] delays maturity in creating an expectation for ceaseless external validation. There’s also a lot of maturing that happens outside.”

We’re entering a time where children get devices and social media at a younger age than before, which is detrimental to such an impressionable group of individuals. 

With so much of social media being fake, especially 15 second TikTok videos, younger audiences can’t realize that what they’re seeing is what the creator wants them to see and not the fact that those videos don’t represent real life.

This often leads to personal struggles like eating disorders, body image issues, and a deteriorating mental health over all.

TikTok, being as fast paced as it is, has very easy ways to fall into its trap of living through the app as well as the lives presented on the app, but when we stand back and actually live life, the trap begins to disappear. 

Lets appreciate and try out the new concepts that are gained from TikTok but also start to become our own person without the help of validation on the app. 

And from the wise words of Mrs. Yuninger, “Proxy culture is weird!”