TikTok and The Importance of Teen Advocacy

During this period of life, teenagers often feel alone in their battles with themselves. This can not only harm their mental health but also make them feel isolated in the world. Social media platforms like TikTok can provide guidance and awareness for teens so that they don’t feel alone in what’s going on in their lives.


Tiktok has been very helpful for helping teens especially when they may feel alone and have no one to relate to. In addition, teenagers have started speaking up about the issues currently happening and how it’s making them feel, this way other people can know they aren’t the only ones that think a certain way.


Teens struggle with problems surrounding mental health, sexual orientation, race, gender and many more are topics. It helps those that deal with them when someone else speaks up about their personal struggles to know that they’re not alone.


“I personally am very passionate about mental health and ending the stigma surrounding it. Seeing more people bring attention to it via a very popular social media platform makes me happy,” junior Maddie Wajda said.


TikTok has features that allow users to personalize their discovery pages to watch content concerning topics and creators they enjoy. The app’s algorithm is designed to pick up on what the user is “liking,” or “not interested in,” and it uses this information to show similar content.


“With the following and for you pages, you can customize your experience on the platform and I think that’s great for people struggling with their gender or sexuality as it’s possible to find a good place to find yourself,” senior Campbell Burmood said.


Throughout TikTok, there are many accounts dedicated to teen advocacy. Majority of these accounts are beneficial and informative; however, there are many aren’t.


“I think it’s more so how you go about sharing your information on the topic. Joking about it isn’t ideal, for example. However, if you’re able to grab viewers attention through serious eye catching videos with a good message behind them, I think it’s great,” Wajda said.


Teen advocacy is something that not only can teenagers benefit from, but also the adults around them. Experts and adults are speaking out on these current dilemmas. This helps teens tremendously to know that what they’re feeling is totally normal.


TikTok creator Samatha Howsden is one of those adults speaking on topics that teens are concerned about. She focuses on giving advice to teenagers that struggle with their parents. Over the past year, she has gained a following of over 3 million followers on her TikTok account, monw0102. Howsden is from and lives in Nebraska and has been interviewed by news outlets like Omaha World Herald and Wall Street Journal for her advice aiming at teens. Having insight on a parent’s perspective on teenagers can help with understanding what is the best way to communicate to parents and how to reach out to them. Howsden uses her own life examples to convey her messages to her followers.


“People talk about parenting styles and there are so many different rules and expectations that can differ from each parent because it changes from kid to kid, but the idea is to be a nontoxic parent. It’s a parent that doesn’t contribute to the difficulties that the teenage years are,” Howsden said.


Howsden talked about how there are many helicopter parents. Most teens in today’s world can agree that they have “helicopter parents” or they know a friend that has these type of parents.


“I think parents forget that just because they don’t like something their kid is doing, doesn’t mean they have to bully them, because if it’s really that bad, their peers will say something to them,” Howsden said.


For kids to be able to talk to their parents, the parents need to be more willing to actually listen and not yell at their kids right off the bat. And for teens it’s better to speak up about things.


“If you speak your truth, there’s two things that will happen: things will get better or they will get worse, but they will not stay the same,” Howsden said.


Teen advocacy is important for teenagers to stay up to date and aware of what’s happening in the world around them. Having these platforms where so many young adults can have their voices heard and others can relate to what they’re saying is important to have in a world that relies so heavily on technology. In order to be heard by adults and leaders, teenagers must take advantage of social media to spread messages to those across the world, something that is crucial, especially right now amongst all the craziness.