TikTok is a hit among youths but experts warn of dire consequences

Ivan Akesiga, 24, says he spends not less than three hours a day browsing through TikTok, an addictive social media app that has become a hit among young people.

“I like watching videos of strange things happening in the world. I also watch comedy skits. Its interesting,” says the third year student of IT at Cavendish University in Kampala.

Three hours amount to 180 minutes which is an awful lot of time, but Akesiga believes his time is well spent.

“I don’t watch a lot of TV so that it how I spend my time,” he says.

Diana Apio, 22, a student says if you want to punish her, uninstall TikTok from her phone. “It’s the only app I visit. I used to have a Facebook page but I abandoned it. TikTok is fun,” she says.

Sauda Nalubwama, a 31-year-old businesswoman, too, confesses to being an addict of TikTok.

She says it helps her relax, laugh and kill stress.

“Sometimes when things are not going well in business, I turn to TikTok and watch funny videos that make me laugh,” she says adding that she spends at least two hours a day on the app.

Nalubwama however cautions that the app can be addictive.

TikTok has warmed itself into hearts of many young people in Uganda like Akesiga. Yet its growing popularity among the youth has come with challenges.

Some parents are worried that the app has made many young people un productive while others have learnt bad habits.

Allan Kaggwa, 46, a father of three says that his 16-year-old daughter no longer wants to do house chores because she spends too much time on the app which she installed on her tab.

At one point, he confiscated the tab from her only to realize that she uses the tab to access school work.

“It is really tough for some of us parents,” he says.

“Children don’t want to do any housework work because of TikTok.”

Experts warn that the platform contains content that could be mentally harmful to young people.

Other potential negative effects of TikTok according to various internet sources include:

Addiction: Since the app boasts an “endless stream” of material, youth 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:  Some youth are making fun of each other’s videos, while others are making videos just to ridicule their fellow youth.

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

Safety: Experts warn that apps like TikTok can easily be used by predators to solicit minors because the app makes it easy for strangers to direct message young people.

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.

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