Special Series: TikTok influences Bearden students’ social dynamics, daily interactions 


Ella Parker

Teenagers say one of the reasons they flock to TikTok over other platforms is because it also sparks in-person interaction, such as the dance that juniors Elle Kate Huck and Lydia Lively perform here.

Editor’s note: This is the first of a four-part series on Bearden students and the ever-growing presence of TikTok. The next installment will be on TikTok making book titles go viral, the second will be on the app’s contributions to the spread of misinformation, and the final story will share students’ reflections on using TikTok as a practical tool.

After a long day of school and work, a Bearden student starts to scroll through her “For You” page on TikTok. 

Time continues to pass, and she can tell that it’s getting late into the night, yet she keeps on scrolling as the app’s short, yet fascinating videos continue to enthrall her. Just for a second, she glances at the time displayed on the corner of her phone screen. 

Oops. It’s already 11 p.m., and she hasn’t even started cramming for tomorrow morning’s ACT. 

Frantically, she types “How to raise your ACT score” into TikTok’s search bar. Her screen is instantly flooded with hundreds of videos of tips and tricks that can help her study in an hour. She sighs in relief.

TikTok has found its way into every facet of many Bearden students’ lives – from helping them to understand difficult concepts to connecting more with their peers as the platform’s content is geared more toward their “level.”

Those connections go beyond the screen too. More and more teenagers are seeing the app’s influence on the in-person social dynamics and conversations in their friend groups.

“A lot of times, the memes and funny trends that we see will be referenced in our conversations,” junior Billy Littlejohn said. “We also like to show each other funny TikToks to make each other laugh.” 

Freshman Ashton Blankenship has had her account since middle school.

“Popular dances that my friends [and I] make together on TikTok [have] helped me connect with them,” she said. 

TikTok’s establishment of “trends” are increasingly popular among teenage users and has thus become the subject of many teens’ everyday conversations with each other.

“When we have similar things come up on our ‘For You’ page, we can relate to each other more and it makes conversation,” Blankenship said. 

Engaging with the “For You” algorithm on the app allows users to watch trending videos (distinguishable by their extremely high “like” and “view” counts), especially those relatable to teens.

“Through common interests and jokes we see on TikTok, it makes our community feel closer,” Littlejohn said.

Added sophomore Cadence Fierro: “There’s just a lot more video content on TikTok than Instagram or Snapchat. It’s a lot more fun when you can actually physically see the person you’re posting with.”