Among American teenagers, TikTok is now more popular than Instagram and Snapchat.
According to a report from Forrester Research, the video sharing site has surpassed all other social media platforms apart from YouTube:
Instagram is becoming cheugy for Gen Z youth. Forrester just got data back from its Forrester Analytics Consumer Technographics® US Youth Survey, 2021, which shows a 13-point year-over-year increase in weekly usage of TikTok (from 50% to 63%) among US Gen Z youth (ages 12–17). For that same audience base, Instagram weekly usage declined 4 points year over year from 61% in 2020 to 57% in 2021, while Snapchat remained flat at 54%.
Although TikTok overtook Instagram in 2021, it’s still not the top “social media” app among Gen Z. According to Forrester’s 2021 Consumer Technographics US Youth Survey, 72% of US youth (ages 12–17) use YouTube at least weekly — representing a 3-point increase from 2020.
When Forrester sought to understand why teenagers prefer TikTok, the most popular answers included:
- Entertainment value. Respondents frequently used the word “fun” and “funny” when relaying their kids’ preference for TikTok. As one respondent said: “It has funnier videos.”
- Short-form variety. TikTok is seen among US youth as an entertaining way to pass the time. The platform’s endless scroll of a random variety of short video clips keeps them engaged.
- Positive self-expression. The “positivity of TikTok” was cited by several respondents emphasizing their ability to freely express themselves (i.e., dancing) — some of whom are motivated by the potential of fame.
Last year, President Trump considered banning TikTok — which is owned by Beijing-based technology firm ByteDance — amid national security concerns. However, President Biden reversed his predecessor’s order in June.
Describing China as a “foreign adversary” that “continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” Biden’s executive order instructs the federal government to “evaluate these threats through rigorous, evidence-based analysis and should address any unacceptable or undue risks consistent with overall national security, foreign policy, and economic objectives, including the preservation and demonstration of America’s core values and fundamental freedoms.”
More recently, some doctors have attributed a surge in physical tics among teenage girls to TikTok. According to medical journal articles, physicians observed that the girls had been looking at videos of influencers on TikTok who claimed to have Tourette syndrome. The Daily Wire’s Charlotte Pence Bond explained that the phenomenon “seemed to coincide with the beginning of the pandemic, and pediatric movement-disorder facilities around the United States have also stated they’ve seen a flood of teenage girls with similar symptoms.”
“There are some kids who watch social media and develop tics and some who don’t have any access to social media and develop tics,” Dr. Joseph McGuire told The Wall Street Journal. “I think there are a lot of contributing factors, including anxiety, depression and stress.”
A TikTok spokeswoman reportedly commented: “The safety and well-being of our community is our priority, and we’re consulting with industry experts to better understand this specific experience.”