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TikTok: more than just a social media platform for Gen Z

If you have any form of social media, you’ve probably heard of TikTok by now.  The social media platform was released in September of 2016 but has vastly grown in popularity in the past few months.   A huge part of its  growth has to do with the global COVID-19 pandemic.  Now more than ever, people are drawn to their phones looking for new ways to connect with others.  According to analytics provided by Sensor Tower, as of April 29, 2020, user downloads for TikTok had surpassed 2 billion.  To some, TikTok is just another social media platform to share videos, but there are some people and companies that are using it to make a difference in the world.

One non-profit organization in Aukland, New Zealand has been using TikTok to connect with homeless teens.  Lifewise helps hundreds of teens on the streets get roofs over their heads, but once they get accommodation, they lose support.  The organization has been using TikTok as a way to keep the youth engaged, participate and stay connected during lockdown.  They challenge kids to post videos and also post cooking and personal hygiene tutorials for them to watch.

A 73-year-old woman from the US is using TikTok to spread awareness about domestic violence.  She herself is a survivor and has been using the social media platform to encourage women to leave toxic relationships.  Domestic violence numbers have doubled in some countries during COVID-19, so she feels that her videos are more important now than ever.  Her almost 700,000 followers keep her young and connected to the outside world during this strange time. 

TikTok themselves have taken the initiative to give back to the community by pledging $375 million dollars to individuals and companies that have been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  They’re donating to healthcare workers, educators and local communities.  They’ve also promised $25 million in ad space to help NGOs, health authorities, and local authorities to deliver public health information.  

So while TikTok seemed to be on the downfall before 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has breathed new life into the video-sharing platform.  Whether you’re using it for work, giving back to the community or just for fun, it seems TikTok has a purpose for everyone and we don’t see it losing its steam in the near future. 

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