“TikTok” on the Clock

A social media trend has students losing time but making memories.

It’s 7 p.m. on a Tuesday night and I just got done eating a warm bowl of homemade mac and cheese. Now that I have food in my stomach, I am fueled up and ready to take on tonight’s homework! The tasks at hand: read fifty-gazillion pages for my English class, write a lot of lesson plans for my Education class, and send email interviews to at least twenty people for my Comm class. If I’m really focused, I’ll be able to get it all finished and go to bed early so I can wake up at 6 a.m. feeling refreshed and renewed!

About forty-five minutes pass and I’m one-third of a way into my reading. I pick up my phone. I need a brain break. I turn to the lovely video app of “Tik Tok”. 

Oh no. Oh no. Oh no, no, no, no, no.

I am instantly sucked into the world of cute dog videos and challenging dance trends and, before too long, it’s 11 p.m. and I haven’t even finished my reading for the next day. But what have I accomplished? Coming across the video that tells me to get off the app six times.

Even though this sounds like a crazy instance of lacking self-control, and it may be over-dramatized for viewer’s entertainment only, it is actually more common than you think for students to get distracted by the app for long periods of time. Whenever I study with a friend or two, at least one of us will become bored of our homework or need a snack break, absorbing every video that crosses their feed and completely forgetting about their agenda for the night. 

“I try to watch Tik Tok only at night before I go to bed, but when I get bored from doing homework and need a break, I’ll pull it up to watch a couple videos. Every time I do this, the break that was supposed to only last five- or ten-minutes turns into an hour long one,” junior Carlie Wilson said. 

While many students can recognize the app as a barrier for productivity, there are only a few that are taking action in attempts to do something about it and not let the app suck them in. 

“I find it really easy to get sucked in and spend hours on the app without realizing it. I normally delete [Tik Tok] every few days but I’ll watch it for an hour or so when I have it downloaded,” senior Macie Moore said. 

Though the app can be addicting, one of the reasons it is such a popular trend amongst a variety of age groups, is the fact that the videos it shows on one’s newsfeed are based off of previous ones the consumer has liked before. This can be dangerous in trapping students in a time-warp but it also proves to have its benefits. 

“I have a completely different feed than my friends, which is nice because we are always sending each other new things,” Moore said. 

The majority of Morningside students have the app or are at least have seen videos on other social media platforms that take that them to the app, but only a limited number of students actually post content. Even fewer have had a video ‘go viral’. 

“I have gone viral a few times. My first one was just a casual dance video that got over 1.2 million views. Since then, I started getting more views on other videos that got anywhere from 20k to one million views,” freshman Caleb Roggenbuck said. “However, my most viewed TikTok received 25 million views and five million likes. The video was with me and my sister doing a trend. I currently have 300k followers.”

In order to cater to viewers, content creators must know the latest trends on the app, which requires them to spend time watching videos.

“I spend an embarrassing amount of time on TikTok. But, when I’m on it, I’m on it to find content or to make videos for my page,” Roggenbuck said.

Because of the relatability and realness of the app, one that reflects a platform similar to YouTube, many students see it as a trend that will be long-lived. It’s a trend that thrives on catching people’s attention and keeping it as long as possible, aiming to entertain through unique content. Having certain creators students religiously follow gives them a certain motivation to continue using the app, keeping the demand for the app at an all-time high. 

“I am obsessed with the Battle family. They post on each other’s accounts, but my favorite is Max Battle because he is so funny. Their content is honestly so original, and I can always rely on them to make me laugh and put me in a better mood,” junior Jadyn Steffen said. “Vine ended up dying and people realized how much they missed it after it was gone, so hopefully TikTok will be around much longer.”

To accommodate to students’ fascination with the app and making use of it in the classroom, professors have even begun incorporating the ability to create Tik Tok videos into their lessons. Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Dr. Elizabeth Coody, says that offering the option to be creative and use the app as students seem fit can be useful in learning her courses’ material.

“I’ve had one student do a TikTok project for an individual study on Religion, Gender and Sexuality in Spring 2020. Her assignment was to teach someone something about the intersection of religion/, gender, and sexuality, so she did a series of TikToks, using the posts to talk about the concepts from our class work,” Coody said. “I thought it worked well because it forced her to take ideas from class and translate them into the challenges that were going on.”

Both students and educators are finding that the app has its pros and cons, and because of the positive benefits of the app, like the encouragement to tap into the creative side of the brain, its believed that the app will be around for a while for consumers to continue being entranced with. 

“At first I thought it would’ve been a short-lived app. But [during] the pandemic it really got popular, so now I think it will be around for a while. The app satisfies people of all ages,” Roggenbuck said.