As teenagers, our parents looked to face-to-face connection, books and, occasionally television for entertainment. Now, teenagers look toward all social media, especially TikTok, as sources of entertainment and information. 

Technology and social media are constantly changing and adapting to society. Social media is vastly different from when it first began, even though it was created not too long ago, and is continuing to develop. 

NDP senior Dominic Starkweather believes social media is constantly changing quickly and in vast ways. “I think social media has changed from people showing small, exciting parts of their lives to people sharing every single part of their lives,” said Starkweather. 

People want social media to allow them to show more and more aspects of their lives, hence why social media applications are constantly updating and adding on new features; this allows social media to be used for whatever reason a person wants to use it.  

NDP students are using many social media apps for many different reasons.

Currently, the most popular social medias at NDP are Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok. Most students are using these apps for information, entertainment or to promote him or herself. 

NDP senior Lexi Roberson believes students use Snapchat so often because “it’s the main way teenagers communicate.” Snapchat is her most used application on her phone with 51 percent of her screen time being spent on the app. 

NDP Junior Nick Ward uses Snapchat and Instagram because they are the “main way [he] stay[s] in touch with [his] friends,” just like many other students. 

Now, most students are taking to Snapchat as their main social media application. However, Instagram and TikTok follow shortly behind in NDP student’s most-used applications. 

Roberson’s next most-used application is TikTok, coming in at 13 percent of her screen time. 

This seems to be the trend among NDP students. Snapchat is the most commonly used social media application. Instagram and TikTok are the next go-tos for NDP students. Many claim these two to be their second most-used applications on his or her phone. 

According to a recent poll of NDP students, 46.8 percent of students use Snapchat the most often. 21 percent of students have TikTok as their most-used social media application and 16.1 percent of students use Instagram the most often. 

Students use these applications for a variety of reasons. NDP Senior Noelle Wilson uses them because “it’s a good way to talk to [her] friends.” 

NDP Senior Nolan McLane believes these apps are “interactive,” and NDP senior Catherine Sesi uses these apps because they have “fun content and keep [her] entertained.”

Many Notre Dame Prep students use these social media applications as a form of communication. Quite often, these apps are used simply because other people are using them. It makes finding people and communicating much easier, especially if communication is needed for a school project and a phone number is not known. 

“I like social media because it’s a fun way of communicating with my friends and family. It offers more than just texting. It also allows people to keep people updated on their lives,” said Roberson.

NDP sophomore Karys Doan likes the communication aspect of social media as well. “Snapchat allows me to keep up with people that maybe don’t live near me,” said Doan. 

Students even use these social medias for his/her business or marketing. For Starkweather, Instagram is “how [he] runs [his] business.”

Starkweather likes social media because he thinks “[it] let’s people get away from regular life.”

These applications are a great way for students to start something up of his/her own or create something of him or herself. It is easy to get the word out and use for a greater good. 

There so many ways social media can be used, and a lot of the ways NDP students are using them are helpful and contribute to the improvement of society as a whole. 

Read more about trending social media over the years here.

Popular features of apps and changing social media:

Many popular social media apps consist of similar features, such as stories, yet no two apps are exactly the same. This uniqueness allows these major apps to thrive, but there are still unlimited aspects that contribute to a social media app being successful in the long run.

Wilson believes certain features make specific apps special and more engaging to her. For example, “the ability to upload music for Instagram stories” is one feature that Wilson finds entertaining about Instagram. “Instagram added the video feature when it originally only let pictures up, and the app also allowed time on videos to increase,” said Wilson. 

“For TikTok there are filters, and they have increased the amount of time videos can be,” said Wilson when explaining what she finds engaging about TikTok.

Wilson appreciates changes made to apps. She believes this makes them more engaging and allows them to remain popular for longer. “Vine died out because there were never any changes made to it. People got bored and found other things to do,” said Wilson. 

“I think Vine didn’t last mainly because it got redundant. It was just people talking and making funny videos over and over again. Eventually that gets boring,” said Doan. 

Roberson believes an app is successful “when it allows people to communicate with each other in fun and creative ways.” A social media app cannot be boring or similar to other apps; it must be original in order for people to continue to use it.

“I like Snapchat better than any other social media because you can talk, text, video chat, play with filters, read the news and send pics,” said Roberson. The multitude of varied features on Snapchat are what draw people to the application.

“I think social media is becoming more advanced as technology is evolving with more features and creativity. You can do multiple things on social media instead of just writing a post,” said Roberson. 

People expect social media apps to stay ahead of the game and continue to adapt to the ever-changing social demands; thus, leading these people to become increasingly addicted to social media.  

The “addictiveness” of social media:

It is well known that many people love social media. It is also well known that some people are even “addicted” to social media. 

“I think social media has made a turn for the worse, and I think it takes over people’s lives,” said Starkweather. 

According to Lauren E. Sherman, Patricia M. Greenfield, Leanna M. Hernandez and Mirella Dapretto, authors of the article “Peer Influence Via Instagram: Effects on Brain and Behavior in Adolescence and Young Adulthood,” “high school students showed significantly greater activation in the left and right NAcc when viewing their own photographs that had received many Likes compared to few.”

The NAcc, or nucleus accumbens, “plays a central role in the reward circuit. Its operation is based chiefly on two essential neurotransmitters: dopamine, which promotes desire, and serotonin, whose effects include satiety and inhibition,” according to Bruno Dubuc, writer for the website thebrain.mcgill.ca.

It is no wonder that people love being on social media. According to Jamie Eske, writer for Medicalnewstoday.com, human brains release dopamine and serotonin, hormones that control pleasure and reward within the body, when they see themselves succeeding.

Social media draws people in and keeps them hooked. People spend and show the entirety of their lives on social media because of the rewarding chemicals released when they see someone “Likes” their photo.

Social media adapts around this and continues to advance to allow people more and more access to this reward circuit in the brain, keeping them engaged and wanting more. 

TikTok in vogue:

It is challenging to tell if TikTok, a trending social media application, is just a fad or if it will be popular in the grand scheme of things, but at the moment, students are spending night and day watching videos and creating content of their own. 

NDP senior Alexa Clatt making a TikTok video while in a store on December 11, 2019/ staff photo courtesy of Danielle Drake.

TikTok has recently become one of the most popular apps in the app store; it is the second most popular free app in Top Charts in the Apple Store just below Disney+. Many NDP students are hopping on the bandwagon, downloading the app and creating videos themselves. 

TikTok has been gaining speed among NDP students this year, leading many of them to become viral. 

One NDP senior, Alexa Clatt, along with many others has reached said fame with over 1.3 million views on one of her TikTok videos. This app has become increasingly popular and is still on the upward trend. 

“I go on TikTok two times more than I use Instagram or Snapchat [according to the usage on her phone]. It is currently my most used app,” said Clatt.

Clatt uses TikTok an average of 16 hours per week, almost 10 percent of her time. 

“It reminds me of the app Vine,” said Clatt. “I feel … Instagram and Snapchat have been so bland lately, and TikTok has humorous videos that are addicting to watch.” 

These “addicting” videos are the key to TikTok’s success as a social media; they keep the users hooked, sitting on their phones for hours at a time, doing nothing but consuming content. 

One reason that TikTok has become so popular among people, is that anyone can be a creator on the app. Roberson believes TikTok is much more open to everyone creating content than Vine was. 

Even though Vine and TikTok are quite similar, TikTok is more friendly toward the masses. Vine was not capable of lasting more than a few years due to its inability to be open to all people to create and its restrictiveness in content creating. 

Musical.ly improved from Vine by being more open to allowing almost any creator the ability to become ‘famous’ through lip-synching. TikTok took Musical.ly a step further and turned into a more user-friendly app that was capable of gaining more speed among youth and teens.

“TikTok is so popular because it has a bunch of different features. Instead of only being able to upload music, like on Musical.ly, you can now create your own content; this is similar to Vine, which I miss,” said Wilson.

TikTok has evolved from Vine and allowed everyone to be a creator. Videos using an unoriginal sound can be up to 15 seconds, and videos using an original sound can be up to a minute, thus allowing creators to use this social media more freely and do more with it, keeping more people on the platform. 

Roberson believes TikTok has caught on more than Musical.ly did because “people have come up with more ways of using it instead of just lip-synching to a song. People can do dances and make jokes.”

“I’m not sure why Vine died out, but after it was gone, everyone missed it and, today, people still wish it was back again. This also might be a reason why people enjoy TikTok even though it used to be Music.ly. I use TikTok to make funny and relatable videos for my friends to watch,” said Roberson. 

According to Harnil Oza, a writer for the website youngupstarts.com, one of the top seven features of a social media app is its “ability to expand user following.” 

TikTok’s “For You” page allows anyone and everyone to gain a mass following in a short amount of time. This page compiles customized content from various creators and delivers them to each user on a home feed. This allows people to be discovered quickly, and allows users endless access to new content, so the consuming has no end. 

TikTok has not released to the public how videos end up on this “For You” page. 

One popular theory on how TikTok’s “For You” page works is that once each video is posted, it is sent out to a small batch of user’s pages. Based upon the like-to-view ratio, it either does or does not get sent out to more people’s “For You” pages.

Yasmin Maurice, a senior at NDP said, “The FYP is randomized and exposes users to new content that they would otherwise not explore” when asked what made the app appealing to her. 

“I think that by conveying funny, important, and interesting messages in a short, digestible way makes it easy to watch videos and engage for long periods of time,” said Maurice. 

Prediction of social media in the future:

TikTok’s originality and ability to allow its users to be creative is a big reason why many users have chosen to use this app, but when asked if she sees herself using this app in the future,  Clatt’s response was surprising. 

“Most likely not. It’s more of a joke to me than anything, so I don’t think it will be something that I [will] continue in the future,” said Clatt. 

Many people use this app daily, and some use it even more than the long-popular and well-known social media, Instagram and Snapchat, yet, they still do not see it lasting. 

Before TikTok became popular, a long list of social media apps went in and out of popularity. Only a few major social media apps have been able to keep up with social demands and stay running. 

Doan thinks TikTok will “continue to be popular,” however, she believes it will change. 

“Just looking at the app now and remembering it from a few months ago, there have already been numerous changes,” said Doan. 

“If TikTok continues to adapt to pop culture, it should be able to flourish … I see myself using TikTok until I find another app I enjoy better or until the content gets redundant and boring,” said Wilson. 

Wilson sees TikTok dying out in the future “just as Vine once did,” however, she sees Instagram and Twitter living on. “Instagram and Twitter are used by a lot more people and have become almost mainstream culture. It’s like ‘oh you don’t have an Instagram. Why? That’s weird’. With TikTok, it’s almost acceptable in a way if you don’t have it,” said Wilson. 

Because Wilson sees it acceptable for people to not have TikTok, this leads her to think it will not remain popular too much longer. 

Wilson thinks TikTok is not unique enough to be successful in the future. “TikTok doesn’t really have a way to diversify itself, just like Vine, without becoming something like Instagram or Twitter. What TikTok is doing is something that Instagram or Twitter could feature in a way,” said Wilson. 

While Wilson believes TikTok will not remain successful in the long run, other people do. 

“Even though TikTok and Vine are very similar, TikTok will probably last longer because there are so many different things you can do with it … For TikTok, there are a lot more opportunities to expand people’s creative minds,” said Doan. 

Maurice thinks the longevity of TikTok will “vary across age demographics.” “I think that its unique content will make it popular for a substantial amount of time,” said Maurice. 

Maurice believes that for a social media app to be successful, it has to have “the ability to connect and network while being at anyplace and anytime.” 

Aspects of an app that make it more appealing to Maurice are “interactive features (stories, live videos) and direct messaging,” and TikTok has these.

According to Oza, the number one factor that goes into making a social media app successful is “ease of connectivity.”

However, TikTok is not popular among older age groups. According to Mediakix.com, “66 percent of worldwide [TikTok] users are under the age of 30. In the U.S., 60 percent of the app’s monthly active users are 16 to 24 year-olds.”

Younger people are the main users of the app, making it not as engaging to older age groups; as the users of this app grow older, it could become less engaging to them, leading them to not use the app. A significant group of the world’s population not using this social media could lead to its own downfall. 

“I think with time and age, people grow out of certain apps, especially young adults. Once something new and better comes out, we tend to forget about the other apps,” said Roberson. 

According to J. Clement, a writer for Statistica.com, “36.5 percent of U.S. Instagram users were between 25 and 34 years old. The second-largest user group was 18 to 24 year olds with a 21.6 percent share.” That leaves a large percent of Instagram users who are older than 34 years old while only 33 percent of TikTok’s users are older than 30. 

“As of September 2018, 21 percent of U.S. Twitter users were between 25 and 34 years old. Furthermore, 55 to 64 year olds accounted for the same amount of U.S. Twitter audiences,” wrote J. Clement. 

As Instagram and Twitter have a wider variety of audiences than TikTok, this could allow them to remain more engaging in the long run.

While there are some aspects to TikTok that could cause it to lose popularity later on, it still has many different facets that could also allow it to flourish and create a new side to social media. 

Uploading a bad TikTok is not as diminishing as tweeting a bad tweet. Sometimes, it is even rewarded and people think it is funny. Some TikToks have gone viral simply because they are bad.

“I believe it is allowing people to be more creative,” said Wilson, “Many content creators on the app are very comfortable, almost too comfortable at times, but that allows them to be seen by the masses.”

Social media has been shifting to this more relaxed and funny way of creating and sharing content. Being the best is no longer required to make it big on social media, especially TikTok, which set the precedent. 

NDP senior Vanessa Mati scrolling through social media in her free time on December 6, 2019/ staff photo courtesy of Danielle Drake.

“I think [TikTok] will last a while, but there is no telling what people may come up with. Instagram is becoming the new Facebook, and Snapchat is becoming the new Instagram. Who knows? Maybe TikTok will be the new everything soon,” said Doan. 

While Doan says this, she also states, “On the other hand, people could get bored with TikTok and move onto the next thing. There is really no telling how long an app will hold people’s attention.”

While TikTok may have some aspects that could cause it to lose popularity later on, it is currently thriving as a social media. Although it lacks age variation, it makes up for it with a mix of originality and Vine nostalgia. 

While TikTok is among the top three social media apps at NDP, this could change in an instant. 

While there are many ways to anticipate this apps longevity, it cannot be known for sure; the people’s ideas and passions are constantly changing. It is impossible to know exactly what the world, and NDP, will want next.