TikTok ban would affect teenage users the most

Amelia Symons, Staff Writer

Known for lip-syncing, short dances, and skits, TikTok has become the most downloaded app on the AppStore. Since its launch in September 2016, TikTok, a video-sharing social networking service, has exploded in popularity and gained over 800 million users worldwide. Before TikTok was popular, the video-sharing app was Musical.ly, and before that, Vine. In late 2017, a Chinese company by the name of ByteDance absorbed Musical.ly into its TikTok app. Despite its ever-growing popularity, there has been serious talk about banning or completely shutting the app down for good.

On average, teenagers spend a minimum of 52 minutes scrolling through TikTok everyday. This has raised some concerns on a local and global scale. Since the videos shown are either 15 or 60 seconds long, studies show that this could lead to a decrease in a person’s attention span. Many people are naming TikTok “the most toxic app out there” because what some people post as a harmless joke is actually encouraging bullying and romanticizing traumatizing events. Additionally, the app is promoting very unsafe “challenges.” A popular challenge on the app months ago called the penny challenge suggested putting a penny between a phone charger and electric wall socket. In one case in southern Alberta, a kid damaged the electrical currents and nearly started a fire in the walls of his house.

Because of all of the controversy surrounding this app and its contents, several countries’ legislators have pushed for review or a complete ban. India banned TikTok to its citizens on June 29, 2020, saying they were” prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order.” The United States legislature claims that TikTok” represents a national security threat because American user data could be sent back to China.” President Trump announced an ultimatum on August 6, 2020, that he would ban all TikTok transactions in the U.S. in 45 days unless the app was sold. The Trump administration wants to ban TikTok in the United States because he claims that the Chinese government has access to user information gathered by the app, but all rumors have been denied by TikTok. TikTok says that the new executive order undermines trust in global businesses and they plan to do everything they can to ensure they as a company and their users will be treated fairly. Time will tell if either side of the disagreement will give in or if some U.S. company will buy TikTok so the millions of users can continue streaming the content.

To see how this ban would potentially affect some TikTok users, I set out to ask around my friend group to see their opinions. Julianne Wilson, a senior at Jacksonville High School shared some of her thoughts on this topic. She said, “I don’t believe that it will actually happen; however, if it is for our safety, then I think it should happen. I think it will be weird not having the app; It makes me feel unified with teenagers in the U.S.” I asked another senior at Jacksonville High School, J.T. Pollitt, his opinion on the situation. He says, “I personally don’t believe that TikTok will be banned because there would be too much backlash, but if it actually did get banned, I would be really upset because it’s a place where a lot of people can be completely open and expressive in whatever way they want. TikTok is like my only form of entertainment on my phone.” Also, I reached out to a former foreign exchange student, Giorgia Calvia, who is now back in her home in Italy, who feels like we would be losing a good app and she doesn’t want TikTok to be banned because it is a way for people to show what they enjoy doing, like dancing and singing, and it is one of the few apps that shows you your feed based on what interests you. I got an opinion from one final senior, Esha Kulkarni, and she said, “I personally don’t think a ban will solve anything and will just make kids upset. Contrary to what many adults believe, TikTok keeps me informed and up to date on current events, so I don’t think it would be beneficial.”