TikTok gets serious about climate change

Clocking videos: The average user spends 52 minutes a day watching clips on TikTok. © TikTok

Is TikTok a force for good? The fastest growing app in the world was developed so teenagers could mess around. Now, young people are using it to speak out and make a difference.

What’s happening

Anna is smiling at the camera, a flower in her hands. The text announces the year is 2019. The video speeds forward in a time lapse. Anna’s makeup smudges and her flower dies. At year 3000, the clock stops and Anna chokes up a piece of plastic. The hashtag on the 15-second video is #GlobalWarning.

Find out more

Tiktok was created as a platform for sharing fun dance and lip-sync videos. Now, there is a new trend of political activism. Young people are using the app as a place to share their opinions on serious subjects, such as politics and climate crisis.

Experts noticed an increase in political posts before the general election in the UK; in the USA, teenagers say TikTok gives them a voice. One said, “I feel like I am making an impact on the election even though I can’t vote.”

With more than 500 million monthly users, TikTok could be encouraging real change. Last month, 15,000 school children met in Bristol for the Youth Strike 4 Climate event. Meanwhile, the Global Warning hashtag has been used 24 million times.

Is TikTok a force for good?

Some say…

The app was designed as a bit of fun and it should stay that way. TikTok could never be used to make a real change because people watch videos and move on without thinking seriously about the topic. As well as this, information can be distorted when it has to fit into a 15-second video, failing to paint a full picture and confusing viewers.

Others think…

Of course! TikTok gives a voice to the younger generation. It gives teenagers the opportunity to reach like-minded people around the world. Squeezing important information into short videos makes them all the more powerful. Even though it was designed for fun, young people are being creative and changing the way everyone thinks about activism.

You Decide

  1. Is social media really just a form of showing off?

Activities

  1. Make your own TikTok video about a subject you feel strongly about.

Some People Say...

“Activism works. So what I’m telling you to do now, is to act.”

Greta Thunberg, 17-year-old environmental activist

What do you think?

Word Watch

Activism
Trying to make social change by taking part in demonstrations and speaking out publicly. Mahatma Gandhi was a social activist who fought against British rule in India.
USA
A series of elections has been underway to decide the Democratic candidate in advance of the presidential election on 3 November.
Youth Strike 4 Climate
Swedish activist Greta Thunberg visited Bristol in February to take part in the schools’ climate strike. Children from around the country took time off school to get involved.
Distorted
Changed in a way that makes something inaccurate or untrue. Reporting on something without giving full details can distort the facts.
Like-minded
People with the same thought or opinion on something are like-minded.

Subjects

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