A new report showed that TikTok was the most visited website in 2021, overcoming Google.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the app, “known for its silly dancing videos, was the world’s most visited site on the internet in 2021, surpassing last year’s leader, [Alphabet Inc.’s] Google, according to [Cloudflare, Inc.], a cloud-infrastructure company that tracks internet traffic.”
The app is owned by ByteDance Ltd., which is based out of Beijing, and it has reportedly had a skyrocketing increase in popularity as it lures viewers in with its algorithm giving them clips of videos it determines they would enjoy watching.
“Earlier this year, TikTok said it had more than one billion monthly users,” the Journal reported.
Cloudflare noted that TikTok initially began hitting the highest points on the charts as the most visited website globally in February, but August was when it spiked, and it mostly stayed in the highest slot for the remainder of the year.
“To come up with its rankings, Cloudflare said it uses data it has on global internet traffic patterns, including app usage or when a person visits a site on a web browser,” the Journal noted.
The Journal included Cloudflare’s other top rankings:
Google, which includes its search function, maps, language translation and other services, ranked second this year. It was followed by Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook, Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Netflix Inc., Alphabet’s YouTube, Twitter Inc. and Meta’s WhatsApp, according to Cloudflare.
Meta’s social-media app Instagram fell off 2021’s list, and was replaced by its messaging app WhatsApp, according to Cloudflare.
Last month, The Daily Wire reported that TikTok now has more popularity among American adolescents 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,” The Daily Wire reported.
When Forrester looked into why adolescents have a preference for TikTok, the three major groupings 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.
While it appears to be an attractive and somewhat addictive site, using TikTok also appears to have adverse effects, which have been reported on this year.
An October Wall Street Journal report revealed that a rising number of teenage girls are experiencing physical tics, a phenomenon that some doctors are saying could come from their use of social media apps like TikTok.
Girls around the world were arriving at doctors’ offices with “physical jerking movements and verbal outbursts,” per The Wall Street Journal. While doctors were initially confused, “experts at top pediatric hospitals in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K. discovered that most of the girls had something in common: TikTok.”
As The Wall Street Journal reported, according to medical journal articles, physicians noted that the girls had been looking at videos of influencers on TikTok who claimed to have Tourette syndrome, a condition of the nervous system which, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “causes people to have ‘tics.’”
“Tics are sudden twitches, movements, or sounds that people do repeatedly. People who have tics cannot stop their body from doing these things. For example, a person might keep blinking over and over. Or, a person might make a grunting sound unwillingly,” the CDC noted.
The increase seemed to coincide with the beginning of the pandemic, and pediatric movement-disorder facilities around the United States have also stated that they’ve seen a flood of teenage girls with similar symptoms.
Physicians note that many of the teenagers had been previously diagnosed with depression or anxiety that was either a result of or made worse by the coronavirus pandemic. Others aren’t rushing to look at TikTok as a reason for the increase, and reportedly pushed back on the idea that the issue should be labeled an epidemic.
This type of phenomenon has existed before, but it is typically limited to a physical location. The Journal pointed to “a famous case a decade ago in which several teens in upstate New York developed tics that were diagnosed as ‘mass psychogenic illness.’”
Recent research shows that social media might allow this to expand more rapidly.
A paper written by two physicians from the Pediatric Movement Disorders Clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital revealed the potential connection between social media use and such disorders.
They wrote, “Functional movement disorder is a subtype of functional neurologic symptom disorder[,] a syndrome of involuntary physical, neurologic-type symptoms that are incongruous with ‘organic’ disease.”
“Throughout history, there have been outbreaks of functional symptoms in communities; until recently, spread had been confined to groups of people who shared a physical location. However, in the era of social media, a new mode of dissemination may have arisen,” the researchers noted.
They concluded, “Our series suggests that social media may contribute to the spread of functional neurologic symptom disorder, in a way previously requiring physical proximity.”
The Journal noted at the time that, among other actions, “[t]o unlearn these tics, doctors recommend cognitive behavioral therapy and tell patients to stay off TikTok for several weeks.”