Many trends arise from TikTok and influence Gen Z’s culture. (TikTok logo courtesy of TikTok / Illustration by Kailyn Thai)
Fountain Valley High School

Watch out, Gen Z. TikTok is taking over

Whether you spend hours on TikTok every day or have heard about a viral video from it in recently in the news or don’t even use it, it’s undeniable that TikTok is taking over.

This video-based, algorithm-following app has transformed Gen Z culture, from the way teens speak to the clothes we wear to the music we listen to. TikTok’s content covers all the bases with dances and music covers, educational tips, style, small business promotions, art shops and casual comedy from everyday teens.

With TikTok’s algorithm, viral videos and current trends spread quickly to a large, expansive audience, either through the “For You” page or the comment section.

Current Gen Z style trends like the “e-girl” and “e-boy” or the revival of mainstream “alternative” culture have also been popularized by TikTok. Take a quick scroll through your “For You” page and you might see these popular style trends worn by teenage TikTokers right away.

Most of all, TikTok has transformed the music industry. Trending sounds on TikTok are used by creators, exposing thousands of teenagers to new music. Past hits from this summer, like “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X and “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion, all have TikTok to thank for going viral on the charts.

Even new, up-and-coming music artists have had viral songs on TikTok, leading to success on Spotify and Apple Music. For example, Curtis Water’s song “Stunnin” went viral on TikTok and currently has over 169 million streams on Spotify.

With over 126 million streams on Spotify, Salem Ilese’s song “Mad at Disney” now benefits from the same viral TikTok success.

Tai Verdes released his debut single “Stuck in the Middle” and after going viral on TikTok, it has over 33 million Spotify streams.

Through TikTok, viral songs hit the charts due to their involvement of user participation. Unlike music apps like Spotify and Apple Music, where users aren’t able to participate in the music they listen to like, TikTok incorporates music into most videos. Users participate in viral music on TikTok either through dance trends or duets, allowing TikTok users to have a direct involvement with their favorite songs.

TikTok’s popularity, especially with Gen Z, has to do with its algorithm and easy-to-use platform.

According to TikTok, the algorithm “recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors — starting from interests you express as a new user and adjusting for things you indicate you’re not interested in, too.”

With this algorithm, entertaining content comes flowing in and doesn’t stop due to TikTok’s “endless scroll” feature. TikTok is user-friendly, allowing anyone to create unique content and even go viral. Through the algorithm, TikTok doesn’t only appeal to creators, but also watchers as many users often spend hours scrolling through the app.

Recently, TikTok has become one of many distractions for high schoolers. With its appealing nature to Gen Z teenagers, TikTok has pulled high school students into their rabbit hole of endless scrolling. Whether it’s college tips or funny memes, TikTok’s popularity has caught the attention and influenced high school viewers across the country.

“I think TikTok has influenced our generation in many ways; the way we dress, the way we talk, and the way we think,” junior Kaylee Nguyen said. “A lot of people may argue that it does so in a negative way, but from my experience with TikTok, dare I say I’ve learned more about the world on that app than I did in school.”

Older generations had the radio and television, but with widespread Internet and technology, Gen Z has access to content from a variety of apps, including TikTok. But unlike other social media apps, TikTok’s relevance derives from it’s laid-back, relatable and infinite nature.

“With TikTok, there is only one page of videos that you can endlessly scroll on, and it’s easier to go viral on TikTok than any other form of social media,” senior Emily Pham said. “With other apps such as Instagram, people like to maintain a high image of themselves and only post the best pictures of themselves on their page.”

TikTok is truly taking over, either for better or worse. However, in these difficult times, many TikTok creators use their platform to spread positivity and information.

“Each generation thinks they are greater than the last, however I truly believe that Gen Z is the start to a more peaceful world,” Pham said. “TikTok has a lot of creators who use their platform for the better.”