For these reasons, the health effects of “Tik Tok” on users must be studied


People have flocked to Tik Tok in droves over the past few years – but research into the social media giant’s potential health effects has not continued.

Despite the fact that TikTok now has more than a billion users, public health researchers know very little about the health effects that may occur on users of the platform (mostly young people).

According to a report by The Verege, this is concerning because researchers know that social media platforms can be harmful, especially to the health of some groups of teens.

“The platform is very massive but there is almost no scientific investigation into it,” says Marco Zenon, a health policy researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Zenon believes it is imperative that researchers begin to discover whether TikTok has similar issues to other platforms, such as the eroding mental health of some teenage girls and a failure to slow down conspiracy theories.

That’s why, along with collaborators, earlier this month published a proposed research agenda outlining areas that experts need to investigate.

They include the manner in which alcohol use and vaping are presented on the platform, medical advice provided by users – made even more pressing in light of misinformation about COVID-19 – and moderation policies.

She added that they are also concerned about what happens to users when videos sharing personal and sensitive stories go viral, and if the platform has similar effects on the mental health of teens as Instagram.

“The research is way too late, given how accessible TikTok is,” Zenone says.

The Verge quoted Zenon about his proposed schedule and why research into the health effects of Tik Tok is important.

I think it came to prominence very quickly, and search couldn’t catch up, so we know TikTok has a billion users, and we see a lot of the research out there still on Facebook and Instagram and related platforms but it hasn’t changed on TikTok, which is kind of a concern. For public health researchers because we’ve seen what happened in the past when things like this were left unchecked.

What areas did you ultimately identify as the important areas to study, and why are they so essential?

Some of the things we’ve reported are just some of the issues we’ve dealt with on other social media platforms, issues have been documented on other platforms, but we haven’t looked at them yet on TikTok.

So for example promoting products that are harmful to health – products like Juul have gone viral on Instagram faster than health researchers can study how to expand the conversation, which is one reason we need to be proactive with this kind of research and document what’s happening around the platform.

Lots of people also provide health advice on the platform, but we don’t really know the quality of the health advice. The available research tells us that when someone has the credentials to speak on a topic, it’s usually accurate, but if you introduce a conflict of interest, such as someone doing When a product is sold, the quality drops, and that can be worrisome depending on how someone uses that health information.

We also know that misinformation is a problem on social media, but we don’t know how prevalent it is on TikTok.

We also need to consider posting hateful or sensitive content on TikTok, with a billion users we have to ask how good moderation actually is.

Are these questions similar to those we ask about other social media platforms, or is there something unique about TikTok?

The main difference I see is that Tik Tok really has the opportunity to learn from Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms.

And the shortcomings are documented so the important thing is up-to-date, social media usually has the same problems across platforms, even if they are on different levels, this is one of the reasons why we need to do the research and see what’s going on.

The user base of TikTok is a little different too, there are a lot of young people on the platform, and I think we should keep that in mind while doing our research.

Why is understanding TikTok so important?

Our view is that TikTok is going to be very popular and we know the majority of people using it are young people, so it’s about making TikTok as safe as possible.

I think we have to make TikTok accountable, and one of the ways we can do that is to make sure we keep up with what’s happening on the platform.


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