How TikTok is a window of escape for young people

The most used network during confinement was TikTok. The survey "How do Mexicans use TikTok?" showed that 70 percent of those surveyed received false news from this medium. In the world, the social-digital network TikTok has one billion users.

How TikTok is a window of escape for young people
Welcome to TikTok, a window of escape for young people. Photo by Eugene Chystiakov / Unsplash

TikTok was the most used network during confinement. The study "How do Mexicans use TikTok?" showed that 70 percent of those surveyed received false news from this medium. TikTok has one billion users worldwide.

Mexico is one of the countries that use and dedicates the most time to socio-digital networks; it is the sixth nation that uses Youtube, the fifth in the case of Facebook and WhatsApp, and the fourth in terms of Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok; this only below the United States and China, highlighted the academic of the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences of the UNAM, Luis Ángel Hurtado Razo.

It is worth mentioning that information from 2020 from the Federal Institute of Telecommunications, refers that Mexicans allocated eight to ten hours a day to the internet, compared to 2015 when they spent six to eight watching television. From the confinement derived from the SARS-CoV-2 virus pandemic, the socio-digital network TikTok emerged becoming the one that grew the most in 2020 on a global scale, since it went from 400 million users to one billion, according to data from its creators.

The origin of TikTok is Chinese and emerged in 2016; its heyday began in 2018 and is characterized by uploading short videos (from 30 seconds to three minutes) with almost any content and because its users can manipulate them.

"With this 'digital makeup,' it is as if we were denying ourselves as we are, for users to be accepted in this entire virtual community. In addition, this socio-digital network has elements of others such as YouTube and Twitter, since it allows you to position your video from a very brief description, but above all through the use of hashtags or tags so that it has greater interaction," he stressed.

For this reason, the Consultancy in Applied Political Communication (CPA), led by Hurtado Razo, conducted from August to September 2021 the national study "How do Mexicans use TikTok?", through which 1,120 questionnaires were applied to almost 392 (34.71 percent) men and about 728 (65.29 percent) women.

They also identified that most of them were young people between 14 and 20 years of age (54 percent), while the sector that participated the least was in the 51 to 60 age range (0.83 percent). In addition, 83 percent said they were studying bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees, and 98 percent said they connected to TikTok using a smartphone.

For a year now, in almost all socio-digital networks there has been talking of deaths, infected and despair due to COVID-19, and one of the sectors of the population most affected has been young people, as they feel they lost their freedom and the possibility of interacting with their closest circles; therefore, a window of escape has been TikTok in which they can watch videos that amuse them.

In this application, you can find choreographed dances, challenges, reading recommendations, and other pastimes that attract the attention of young people and adults. Its popularity has led other disciplines to take an interest in it, such as politics. In this logic, the famous phenomenon of 'Tiktokers' arises, as well as 'Youtubers' or 'Influencers', people who have become opinion leaders or ambassadors of certain brands to generate content that is generally liked and who receive compensation for doing so.

Curious facts

The correct use of any socio-digital network would be to encourage public debate, knowledge construction, and reflections on a process of socialization and citizenship on problems that afflict today, such as the attack on the exercise of freedom of expression that occurs in a context in which the Internet was thought to be a space open to dialogue.

In the socio-digital networks, there is too much emotionality, as people are currently being carried away by their impulses that lead to polarization, hate speeches, and above all the "terrible virus of disinformation", without taking into account the opinion of society. And if this can be avoided, it would be the best.

"The millions of people in Mexico and the world who have the opportunity to make content on these digital platforms, the ideal would be that through them they raise awareness among more people about environmental care, respect for minorities, gender equality, promote human rights and animal rights, for example," emphasized the university professor.

Other data from the study conducted by the CPA indicate that 70 percent of those surveyed said that they received false news through TikTok. In this sense, he stressed that some manipulate public opinion to generate high doses of polarization among users and "lynchings" against a specific actor or institution.

"We lack more media education, which allows us to make a balance in terms of how we inform ourselves. It is necessary not to fall back on a single media. For this we can still consult other reliable sources such as books, magazines, radio, which also allow us to be aware of the details," Hurtado Razo emphasized.