The coronavirus outbreak has reached social media app TikTok. (Joel Saget / AFP / Getty Images)
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Opinion: TikTok is the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel

TikTok has been the teen social media superstar platform for months already, passing Instagram, Twitter and Facebook like they were old news, has now taken over the day-to-day lives of countless quarantined people.

Why has TikTok found more success in the midst of this global catastrophe? Are people using TikTok to ease the stress of the pandemic? Is the public not taking the virus seriously, facing it with dance trends and viral videos?

Probably. But it looks like TikTok’s increased success is mostly due to the boredom that comes with long term quarantine.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? Millions of people worldwide stuck at home, unable to socialize with one another, literally left to their own devices. What else can they do but stare at their phones and TVs all day?

At a certain point, you need to move away from Netflix and Disney+, streaming services that require a 20-40 minute time commitment per episode; they push you right into the welcoming arms of the app that’s taken the world by storm.

It’s TikTok time.

With short, hilarious videos from all your favorite celebrities, as well as ordinary people trying to go viral, TikTok has everything you could want in an app. It even dangles the promise of making totally normal people famous, or at least, TikTok famous.

And, stuck at home, with nothing better to do, why not give it a try?

This idea is shared by millions. According to Music Business Worldwide, TikTok’s gross revenue in the United States in the week of March 16 was up 34% (totaling $1.1 million) over the previous week, when it earned $822,000.

Moreover, in nations under mandatory lockdown, such as Italy, the increase was even greater. TikTok was downloaded 35% more in Italy in the week of March 16 than in the prior week, leaving a total of 237,000 downloads in Italy alone.

The virus itself is also now one of the most popular subjects of TikTok videos on the platform. Videos with the hashtag #coronavirus have a total of 28.7 billion views, and videos with the hashtag #covid19 have 5.8 billion views.

Additionally, many videos regarding direct results of the coronavirus, such as online classes and quarantine, are major hits on the app.

Even the Vietnamese government has taken to TikTok to spread its message of being safe during the pandemic. The Vietnamese Ministry of Health worked with two popular singers, Min and Erik, to use music to spread awareness on how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The chorus of the song they wrote, translated into English, reads: “Let’s wash our hands, rub, rub, rub, rub them/ Don’t put your hands on eyes, nose, mouth/limit going to crowded places, fight back against corona!”

This song became wildly popular, and, after dancer Quang Dang danced to it, became a part of a TikTok challenge, called the #GhenCovyChallenge.

I am no exception to the Coronavirus-TikTok relationship. When my school was canceled for a week, I downloaded TikTok and created multiple videos (none of which, unfortunately, went viral).

According to the screen time feature on my phone, I have spent one hour and 37 minutes on TikTok in the past five days, a ridiculous amount of time that is actually well below average, according to 99firms.com, which states that the average TikTok user spends 52 minutes on the app daily.

With schools and colleges closing, and, according to Business Insider, 41% of TikTok users being between the ages of 16 and 24, this relationship makes sense.

But, unfortunately, there is a side effect to hundreds of millions of people’s boredom being cured by TikTok: it has made a joke of the coronavirus. Just last week, for example, a 21-year-old TikTok creator tested positive for coronavirus after licking a public toilet for the #coronachallenge.

People are turning to TikTok and other forms of social media as an escape from the realities of the coronavirus situation. However, this is simply unfeasible.

By giving off the idea that the coronavirus is not dangerous, through countless memes and videos about it, we are endangering the public and anyone who may believe that it is not a threat.

We must be careful, and make it clear that being careful is the right decision- and the best way for that to happen is to take the coronavirus off of TikTok.