TikTok: The App Taking Over a Generation 


If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past couple of months, you will have noticed the rising popularity of a new video sharing app, TikTok. TikTok is a social media platform in which users can upload a 3-60 second video dubbed by audio clips that may be used by any person on the app. Currently, it is commonly used to share short comedic, dance, and point of view videos. It is a simple concept and not relatively new, but the app has garnered around 500 million active users. So, why the obsession?

There are a few factors that may have contributed to the spike. First, the shut down of another rather popular video sharing app, Vine, in January of 2017. This app allows users to upload 6 second videos overlaid by audio clips. Sounds familiar, right? The announcement of the app’s “death” caused a mass nostalgia of sorts within the Millennials and Generation Z, causing an influx of compilations of popular Vines on Youtube. In December 2015, Vine had 200 million active users. There was a void in the internet after the deletion of the app, and this is where Musical.ly comes in.

Musical.ly was another video sharing app with a very similar set up to TikTok. It was created in 2014 and unlike TikTok, was mainly used as a lip syncing app. In June 2016 the app had about 90 million users. This number more than doubled to an impressive 200 million users by May 2017, just a few months after the shutdown of Vine. In November of 2017, the company that owned TikTok, ByteDance, purchased Musical.ly and merged the two platforms. The revamping of Musical.ly appealed to many social media users, and seeing a fresh face in the app store sparked curiosity with many. TikTok has been downloaded around 800 million times worldwide since its creation.

The rise in popularity may also be caused by the nature of Generation Z, the generation that most commonly uses the app. Members of this generation are born between the years of 1994 and 2010, during a time where technology and social media were becoming prominent in society. With the internet becoming more accessible, a majority of Generation Z has had information and media presented to them at the mere click of a button. Because of this, it is believed they have become used to instant gratification and quick entertainment. Many believe that Gen Z have a shorter attention span than previous generations, due to the era and environment they have grown up in. Knowing this, it may seem obvious why TikTok appeals to today’s youth. The quick videos and short lived trends are prime entertainment for Generation Z.

I recently interviewed Anna Daugherty, a sophomore at Nerinx Hall and an avid TikTok user, about her opinions on and experiences with the app.

Q: When did you download TikTok?

A: I downloaded TikTok probably a couple months ago because I saw that it was trending on the app store.

Q: How often do you use TikTok?

A: Daily. Like literally daily.

Q:How many hours in a day?

A: Five. I sit there in the morning and I watch TikToks. I go to bed at night, I’m watching TikToks.

Q: Why do you think Generation Z likes TikTok so much?

A: TikTok is a lot of fun and you should be yourself on TikTok. It’s a way to express yourself.

Q: What do you think the effect of TikTok is on today’s teenagers?

A: Probably pretty bad. It glues people to the TikTok world.

Q: Why do you think it’s so bad?

A: Well ‘cause like I look at Charli D’Amelio* and like I know that I’m not gonna be in the Hype House** and that kinda honestly brings down my ego and self confidence, both at the same time.

Q: Do you think there are any positive effects of TikTok?

A: I think it makes people happy and laugh. It makes me giggle.

Q: Did you ever use Vine or Musical.ly?

A: I was a big Musical.ly fan.

Q: Do you think that because the videos are so short, people enjoy them more than YouTube videos?

A: Yes, because people like me with short attention spans get to just focus.

Q: Finally, what would you do if you were TikTok famous?

A: I’d join the hype house… You know what? I wouldn’t join it, I’d be asked.

Who knows what the future holds for TikTok; perhaps the masses will eventually lose interest in the app and move to some new quicker form of entertainment. However, as of this moment, it may be safe to say that our generation is obsessed (as if one cannot already tell from witnessing the filming of many TikToks in the halls daily). Whether it be because of circumstance, generational nature, or of some unknown otherworldly force, TikTok seems to be a social platform of great cultural significance for many of today’s teens.


*Charli D’Amelio is a popular TikTok content creator with 17.7 million followers as of January 2020.

** The Hype House is a collab house in Los Angeles where a group of nineteen TikTok stars live and/or work.