Column - TikTok Tackles: Navigating the Crossroads of Social Media and Mental Health

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It's nearly impossible to ignore the impact and influence of TikTok on today's digital society. The social media platform, which allows users to create and share short videos, has quickly become a global phenomenon. However, as the popularity of TikTok has soared, so have discussions and fears surrounding its potential impact on mental health.

The Dual Sides of TikTok

TikTok has undeniably become a platform for self-expression and creativity, fostering a unique sense of community. However, alongside the positives, it's pivotal to acknowledge the potential risks and negative aspects, especially concerning mental health. The platform's algorithm, which is designed to cater to users' preferences, can quickly lead to a comparison trap and body image issues (1).

The glamorization of 'ideal' body types promoted through filters and curated content can deeply affect users' self-esteem, particularly the younger demographic. Furthermore, the anonymity offered by the platform has triggered an unpleasant surge in online harassment and cyberbullying (2).

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Image Source: Eyestetiks Studio via UnsplashImage Source: Eyestetiks Studio via Unsplash
Image Source: Eyestetiks Studio via Unsplash

A survey by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK found that out of all social media platforms, TikTok had one of the most detrimental impacts on mental health, heightening feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness(3).

Protecting Yourself on TikTok

Protecting your mental health while engaging with TikTok requires conscious effort and responsible usage. Here are some steps that users can take to maintain a safe and mentally healthy environment:

  1. Use Privacy Settings: TikTok allows users to manage who can view and comment on their content. Make sure to make use of these settings to maintain control over who interacts with your content.

  2. Report and Block Abusive Content: TikTok gives their users a tool to report and block any content that feels abusive or potentially harmful.

  3. Limit Screen Time: It's easy to lose track of time while scrolling through addictive content. Try to limit your usage and take regular breaks.

Advice for Parents and Carers

Parents and carers can play a pivotal role in ensuring the safe and healthy usage of TikTok.

A few recommendations include:

  • Open Dialogue: Maintain an open conversation about the potential risks of interacting on social media platforms. Encourage your child to express any concerns or experiences they might have encountered on TikTok.

  • Monitor Usage: While respecting privacy, ensure that you are aware of the kind of content your child is exposed to. Make use of the Digital Wellbeing settings available on the app.

  • Set Ground Rules: Establishing set rules for screen time can prevent excessive usage and potential addiction.

TikTok & Schools

In recent years, schools have seen a significant rise in the disruption caused by TikTok. From viral challenges promoting pranks or vandalism to harmful content that can affect student's well-being, the platform's invasion into the educational environment is concerning (4).

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School staff should be proactive in openly discussing the responsible usage of social media. Integrating classes on digital citizenship can help educate students about internet etiquette and the importance of maintaining mental health while engaging with platforms like TikTok.


As TikTok continues to influence lives globally, it's essential to recognize the platform's potential effects on mental health.

Ensuring safe usage of TikTok requires collective responsibility from users, parents, and schools. And as we move forward, there's a pressing need for platforms like TikTok to prioritize mental health in their design and policy formulation.


  1. Fardouly, J., Diedrichs, P. C., Vartanian, L. R., & Halliwell, E. (2015). Social comparisons on social media: the impact of Facebook on young women's body image concerns and mood. Body Image, 13, 38-45.

  2. Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2016). Cyberbullying and sexting: Law enforcement perceptions. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.

  3. Royal Society for Public Health. (2017). Status of Mind: Social media and young people's mental health.

  4. Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2019). Connecting adolescent suicide to the severity of bullying and cyberbullying. Journal of School Violence, 18(3), 333-346.

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