Negative Impact of TikTok on Teens

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February 28, 2022

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!


Sharon M.

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.


Director of College Advising

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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.


Irene C.

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This app is listed in the Green Zone.
This app is not safe for students to use unsupervised, but a Green Zone app can serve a positive purpose to help a student to navigate social media and someday build an online brand. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Green Zone.

This app is listed in the Gray Zone.
Gray Zone apps often contain lots of private & disappearing messages, and strangers can use this to chat with students. Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe. This zone can be a great place for family time since many of these apps can be entertaining, and let your students express themselves. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Gray Zone.

This app is listed in the Red Zone.
Red Zone apps often have lots of anonymous features, adult content, and easy contact with strangers. Supervision is strongly suggested on each of these apps or move your kids to a safer zone. All apps require parental supervision, these apps more than others. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Red Zone or view our list of 100+ Apps to find a safer app with your student.
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This trend is categorized as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge.
Viral challenges encourage students to do dangerous things to garner likes, views, attention, and subscribers. These challenges can be found across several social networks and may encourage students to perform dangerous activities. keeps parents updated on these social media challenges before an incident may occur in your community.

Table of Contents

TikTok is a massively popular video app among teens and tweens. Users can upload and share 60 second videos of themselves dancing, lip syncing, or doing dangerous or provocative stunts. Parents should learn what TikTok is and then talk with their kids about properly using the app.

Parents & teachers: Join the VIP (Very Informed Parent) membership to take the full course: Navigating TikTok (A Course for Students, Parents, & Teachers)

TikTok App logo
Learn how to keep your kids safe on the Tik Tok app

Potential negative effects of TikTok

Addiction: Since the app boasts an “endless stream” of material, students are likely to spend a long time in the app and might even become addicted to watching the videos for hours at a time.

Bullying: A high school principal in New York tells Smart Social Founder Josh Ochs that students are being bullied on TikTok. Some students are making fun of each other's videos, while others are making videos just to ridicule their fellow students.

Comparison: Some students make outrageous, and even dangerous, videos to get more likes and followers. Social mediachallenges are an easy way to gain likes, but some of the challenges are not appropriate for tweens and teens.

Safety Concerns: Apps like TikTok can easily be used by predators to solicit minors because the app makes it easy for strangers to direct message children. "There are no restrictions as to who can join the app and it is used internationally, connecting virtually everyone," explained Digital Family Expert Theresa Desuyo, at the parental control software company Qustodio.

Mental Health: Some experts report it can be easy to come across triggering content on the app that could promote issues like self-harm or eating disorders.

TikTok in the news

NBC headline: What is TikTok? And is it safe? A guide for clueless parents. This hot social media app can foster creativity and socilization, but parents-and kids-need to know the risks
Vivian Manning-Schaffel told NBC News her 12-year-old daughter is “obsessed with TikTok. She loves to edit videos and lip sync, and this app allows her to do what she enjoys. She can create funny, humorous scenarios and express herself with song.” 

NBC News

But another mom, Tricia Cuthbertson, has a warning for other parents. She told NBC News her daughter’s friend downloaded TikTok onto her daughter’s phone to post videos of the two of them. “In the matter of an hour, she has 20 followers, all men, and they were starting to make [inappropriate] comments.”
WDBJ CBS 7 headline: Report: Online predators use teen app TikTok to solicit children
The tech website Motherboard investigated the app and found a large community of adult users on TikTok soliciting nude photos from kids. Some of those users even sent explicit videos to children.


WCPO 9 headline: Lakota West football player dismissed after orchestrating girl's social media bullying. Her mother says she wants to see consequences for others who participated.
“A… football player was dismissed from the team Friday, and several more will face “serious consequences” after recording and sharing a TikTok video bullying a female classmate”

WCPO Cincinnati

What students think of the TikTok app (video interview)

What parents say about TikTok

**Warning....this app contains Adult Video Content!**

After I started exploring the app, I realize that at the bottom of the video people could put hashtags. I clicked on a hash tag, which took me to another video with a different suggestive sounding hashtag at the bottom that I clicked on, which then took me to videos that were Adult content.

Common Sense Media

Caution! Very fun but not for Tweens!

The BIG problem is that a lot of the available music and sound bites contain all the very adult language and innuendo you hear on the radio. So when left to her own devices, I found my 10 year old lip syncing to suggestive lyrics she didn't even understand... What's worse is that the rating system becomes addictive… [My daughter] and her friends kept pushing the envelope to see how many "likes" they could get. What originally was supposed to be a private account became public for the thrill of getting the approval of strangers.  

Common Sense Media

What can parents do?

  • Create your own TikTok account and try it for yourself
  • ~Ask your student to show you the app, what they like, and how to find content you will like
  • Talk as a family about setting screen time limits and use your device's settings (or the app's settings) to help regulate the time each person spends on TikTok
  • Join the VIP (Very Informed Parent) membership to take the full course: Navigating TikTok (A Course for Students, Parents, & Teachers)


TikTok is a fun and creative outlet for users to post dance compilations, tell funny jokes, and show off their talents. But some of the content users post can contain explicit language, suggestive themes, and lewd gestures.

Smart Social recommends using the app's Family Pairing feature and talking with your students about safe and smart social media practices, if you allow them to use the TikTok app.

Students are you using this page for your homework and need to cite your source? Use this MLA format:

“The Negative Impact of TikTok on Teens” SmartSocial, 28 February 2022,

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