capturing creativity or consuming content? tiktok's impact on high school teens

     Within the past decade, there has been a significant transformation in the realm of technology, leading to a rearrangement of global interactions, communication patterns, and information consumption. The proliferation of social media platforms has emerged as a major aspect of this societal shift, since they have become an indispensable component in the lives of adolescents. These platforms provide unparalleled opportunities for individuals to express themselves, establish connections, and gain access to a wide range of unique information. 

     A multitude of academic studies have examined the extensive ramifications of adolescents' involvement in social media, uncovering the possibility of both advantageous and detrimental consequences. The influence of these platforms on adolescents' sense of self, perception of social norms, and overall well-being has been observed by researchers. Consequently, the academic sphere has experienced a notable enhancement in understanding the complex dynamics that exist between young individuals and their digital surroundings.

     Nevertheless, amid this expansive exploration into the impacts of social media on adolescents, a platform known as TikTok has garnered significant interest from both young users and researchers. Numerous studies have examined the broad impact of social media; yet, a gap exists within academic discourse regarding a thorough comprehension of how TikTok distinctly moulds the experiences of high school students The unique structure of short-form videos, the rapid consumption of content, and the interactive elements of TikTok prompt interesting inquiries regarding the various manners in which this platform deviates from its predecessors in impacting several domains, including well-being, academic performance, and social interactions.

     The primary objective of this research project is to address this gap by conducting a comprehensive analysis of Tik Tok's influence on the academic and social lives of high school students. This study employs a survey method, utilizing both quantitative and qualitative survey data to investigate the multifaceted impact of TikTok on the psychosocial development of teenagers. This study seeks to provide an in-depth understanding of the intricate relationship between adolescents and the burgeoning digital phenomenon of TikTok, specifically focusing on its impact on well-being, academic engagement, and social relationships.

     The ultimate  aim of this research project is to contribute to the continuing discourse surrounding the influence of the digital environment on adolescents. I will examine the impact of TikTok on the lives of high school students, with the aim of providing valuable insights to educators, parents, and seek to enhance comprehension of the ways in which digital surroundings influence the development paths of younger individuals.

Disclaimer: The following research study was conducted by a student researcher and should be noted as distinct from the contributions of established professionals or experts in the domains of psychology, education, or other relevant topics. This study is a part of academic exploration and does not possess the equivalent degree of rigour and knowledge that would be anticipated from a professional study. The research findings, conclusions, and suggestions outlined in this study are derived from the projects restricted scope and the student researcher's knowledge at the time of doing the research. This study does not serve as a substitute for the instruction, expertise, or perspectives that may be offered by properly trained specialists in relevant domains. 



     The sample for this study consisted of high school students at University Hill Secondary from grades 9-12. A sample of 144 students was used.

Survey Design

     A survey questionnaire with a structured format was developed to gather data of both quantitative and qualitative nature. The survey encompassed a total of 24 questions that covered a wide range of facets pertaining to the consumption of TikTok. These facets included the frequency of usage, preferences for content, perceived impacts on one's well-being, academic achievements, and social connections. Quantitative data was collected through the use of closed-ended questions, such as "What is the average duration of time you allocate to engaging with TikTok on a daily basis?" On the other hand, qualitative insights were obtained by employing open-ended questions, such as "What are the reasons behind your inclination or disinclination to recommend TikTok to your peers?"

Data Collection

     Permission to conduct the study was obtained from the school. The survey was conducted through Google Forms. The participants were extended invitations to partake in the study by email, whereupon they were provided with a brief explanation of the research's objectives and a link to access the survey. At the start of the survey, participants were provided with informed consent, and were given confirmation regarding the confidentiality of their responses.

Data Analysis

     The analysis of quantitative data obtained from closed-ended questions involved the use of descriptive statistics, such as percentages and means. The qualitative data obtained from open-ended questions was analyzed using thematic analysis in order to uncover recurring patterns and themes.



     The study's participant demographics revealed a gender distribution of 65% female and 35% male. Across grade levels, a majority of the respondents were in grade 12 (50%), followed by grade 11 (30%), grade 10 (12%), and grade 9 (8%).


     Survey responses indicated that 90% of participants reported using TikTok every day. On average, respondents spent approximately 2.5 hours per day engaging with content on the platform.

     Respondents engaged with various content types on TikTok, with 60% favoring entertainment, 40% showing interest in educational content, and 25% primarily using the platform for social connections.

Academic Performance

     Within the sample, 15% of respondents indicated that TikTok usage interfered with their schoolwork or studying. However, 65% believed that their academic grades had been positively impacted by education content from the platform. 

Social Interactions

     Opinions on TikTok's impact on social interactions varied, with 40% believing it had a positive effect, while 30% believed it had a negative impact on their relationships with friends. Notably, 55% of respondents reported participating in TikTok challenges or trends with friends.

Digital Well-being

     Results on the potential link between TikTok usage and digital well-being were mixed. 40% of respondents agreed that TikTok increased their overall screen time, while 30% disagreed. In terms of checking TikTok notifications, 50% admitted feeling the need to do so frequently.

General Well-being

     Around 70% of participants acknowledged that using TikTok influenced their mood. An overwhelming 85% admitted frequently comparing their lives to the content they encountered. Moreover, 45% reported experiencing feelings of inadequacy due to the content they viewed on TikTok.


     60% of participants expressed feeling pressured to conform to specific appearance or behavior standards due to TikTok trends. An overwhelming 75% believed that TikTok promotes unrealistic body standards.

Privacy and Safety

     75% of respondents were aware of TikTok's privacy settings. 20% shared instances where they had shared personal information on TikTok that they later regretted.

Future Plans

     Respondents' future intentions with TikTok usage were clear, with 90% planning to continue using the platform in the foreseeable future. In terms of recommendations, 45% of participants said they would recommend TikTok to their peers, primarily citing entertainment value (50%) and creativity (35%) as reasons.


     The survey results offer a comprehensive view of how TikTok impacts high school students across various dimensions. The diverse demographics, with a higher representation of females and students in grades 11 and 12, allowed for insights into different perspectives. Notably, respondents engaged with TikTok daily, spending around 2.5 hours per day on average, indicating a significant integration of the platform into their lives. The content engagement was broad, with entertainment and education being key drivers.

Academic Impacts

     The implications of these outcomes have great importance, as they shed light on the changing role of digital media in the lives of adolescents. An overwhelming amount of individuals stated that Tik Tok did have positive educational effects. The visually immersive style of TikTok is well-suited to the preferences of contemporary learners, who frequently see visual content as more captivating and enduring. The integration of succinct explanations and graphic elements facilitates the understanding and retention of information. TikTok also provides students with the opportunity to generate and disseminate their own instructional videos. The instructional content in question exemplifies the principles of the Constructivist Learning Theory, which highlights the active role of learners in constructing knowledge through their active involvement and collaborative efforts. In addition, TikTok's algorithmic content suggestion system customizes users' feeds based on their own interests and preferences. The aforementioned customization aligns with the tenets of differentiated education, a pedagogical approach that involves modifying instructional strategies to accommodate diverse learning preferences and requirements. This has the potential to boost engagement and motivation, which are two critical variables in facilitating effective learning.

Impacts on Body Image

     Conversely, the deleterious consequences arising from the impact of TikTok on body image and self-esteem bring attention to the significant influence that media exerts on the self-perceptions of adolescents. The aforementioned findings highlight the significance of the platform in sustaining unrealistic ideals of beauty and its capacity to lead to various psychological difficulties.

     The ramifications of the survey results become evident when taking into account the underlying psychological mechanisms. The platform of TikTok presents a diverse range of well constructed personalities, frequently portraying idealized conceptions of beauty and lifestyles. The appeal of these carefully selected images has the potential to induce self-comparison, a psychological tendency that can be attributed to the social comparison hypothesis. As adolescents compare themselves to these elevated norms, they may experience emotions of inadequacy and discontentment. The acquisition of media literacy skills is of utmost importance for adolescents in the contemporary digital world. An all-encompassing media literacy education has the potential to equip students with the skills necessary to interpret the intricacies of content production, distinguish manipulated graphics, and acknowledge the disparity between online identities and real-world experiences. Through the instruction of critical analysis tools, young individuals have the opportunity to develop a discerning perspective that serves as a safeguard against the internalization of idealized images as standards for evaluating their own self-value.


     Through a comprehensive analysis of the multifaceted impacts of TikTok on adolescents in secondary education, this study has revealed a complex array of consequences that extend beyond simply entertainment. The impact of TikTok encompasses various dimensions, including educational, emotional, and psychological aspects, which give rise to both positive consequences most notably in academics and education, as well as negative impacts, most notably in regards to body image. The results emphasize the importance of adopting a holistic strategy that recognizes the capabilities of the platform while also tackling the obstacles it presents.

     Nevertheless, it is imperative to recognize the limitations of this research. The survey's cross-sectional design limits the capacity to establish causal links. Longitudinal studies offer a comprehensive perspective on the evolving nature of TikTok's influence over time. Additionally, the utilization of self-reported data in the survey adds the potential for response bias, which may impact the accuracy of the reported behaviors.

     Furthermore, it is worth noting that the sample size and demographic composition may not provide a comprehensive representation of the heterogeneous high school community. The generalizability of the findings could be improved by including a wider range of participants with greater diversity in the sample.


     The integration of comprehensive media literacy instruction into school curricula is necessary. It is imperative for adolescents to possess the necessary abilities to critically evaluate internet content, comprehend various editing strategies, and differentiate between authentic reality and curated representations.

     Collaborative Efforts in Achieving Balanced Digital Engagement: It is imperative for educators, parents, and students to work together in order to establish appropriate boundaries for screen time and develop structured digital routines. Taking a balanced approach to online involvement can help to alleviate the adverse effects on academic performance and overall well-being.

     Emotional Resilience Programs: Introduce emotional intelligence programs aimed at providing kids with coping mechanisms to effectively navigate emotional reactions arising from social comparison and online interactions.

  Promoting Supportive Peer Environments: Encouraging the cultivation of open dialogues regarding online experiences within peer groups can establish secure environments for the exchange of difficulties and the pursuit of help.

     The provision of counseling services and mental health resources within educational institutions is crucial in addressing the emotional consequences arising from online interactions and self-comparison.

     In summary, this study highlights the multifaceted nature of TikTok's influence on adolescents in high school, encompassing several aspects such as educational outcomes, emotional welfare, and self-perception. In order to effectively utilize the positive aspects and minimize the negative consequences, a collaborative endeavor is necessary involving educators, parents, and the platforms themselves. By including media literacy, emotional intelligence, and inclusion into the framework of digital engagement, it is possible to steer teenagers towards responsible and empowered relationships within the digital realm.

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