TikTok announced that it would implement a new tactic that can help explain to its young users the negative effects of social media on one's mental health.
The new feature will be added to the platform's Safety Center under the name "Well-Being Guide." It will dive into several topics such as eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and more. There will also be expanded search interventions and viewing screens on searchers that can be triggering for users.
TikTok's Touch on Mental Health
The new well-being guide is developed in partnership with Crisis Text Line, International Association for Suicide Prevention, Samaritans of Singapore, Live For Tomorrow, and Samaritans UK, according to TechCrunch.
The guide will also encourage users to consider how it might impact them to share their stories and struggles about mental health on a platform where it may go viral.
TikTok wants users to share their experiences and interact with other users on the platform that are going through the same thing.
The social media platform also added a short generic memo about the impact of eating disorders. It is under the topics section of the app's Safety Center.
The memo was developed together with the National Eating Disorder Association or NEDA, which collaborates with social media platforms to prohibit ads that promote unhealthy weight loss.
In the past, TikTok would direct users to several help hotlines when trigger words or phrases popped up. Now, the platform will share contents from other creators to help those who are in need.
Also, if a user searches a phrase or word that might be alarming, the content will be blurred out, and it will ask the user to opt-in to see the search results, according to NewsBreak.
The changes made by TikTok came after a 2019 study that shows that even three hours spent on a social media platform can already have negative effects on a person's mental health.
Social Media Platforms Make Changes
As TikTok unveiled its changes, its social media competitor Instagram received backlash after The Wall Street Journal unveiled documents from Facebook showing that it did its own research on the harm that Instagram poses for young girls.
Similar to TikTok, more than 40% of Instagram users are 22 years old or younger. In the United States alone, 22 million teenagers log in every day to the platform.
In the article by The Wall Street Journal, one 19-year-old user said that after searching for workout ideas, her explore page was filled with pictures on how to lose weight. Some posts even encouraged fasting.
The director for the eating disorders program at John Hopkins Hospital, Angela Guarda, said that her patients usually say that they learned about dangerous weight loss tips through social media.
As TikTok launches with its advice sharing feature, it shows that social media can also be a positive resource. It allows people who are dealing with issues to learn from others who went through the same experience.
Despite the influence of social media, it still boils down to users of the platform. Social media sites encourage people to think twice before they post as they don't know how to influence others.
Even after Facebook hid the number of likes on Instagram, employees stated that it did not improve the users' overall well-being, according to BBC.
Although the revelations about the negative effects of social media on mental health are nothing new, they create a renewed pressure for powerful platforms to look for ways to support their users.
Related Article: Effects of Social Media on Mental Health
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Written by Sophie Webster