Arts & Culture

TikTok’s Popularity Surges Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

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Amid the coronavirus pandemic, individuals living under shelter-in-place orders have found a unique way to pass the time.

With concerts canceled and movie theaters closed, a new source of entertainment has emerged: TikTok.

“I get really sick of watching the news and the TikTok videos are silly and positive, and they just make you feel good,” Susan Ritchie, a TikTok user, said.

From dances, to skits, to pranks, the app lets users show off their skills to a global audience from the safety of their own homes.

Many users are logging their daily lives while social distancing or under quarantine.

“During quarantine there’s not much to do, so it’s just kind of entertaining,” Tessa Ritchie, a TikTok user, said.

Even doctors are turning to TikTok to share information about the virus and to show off their dance skills.

“I think it’s a really good idea, it’s another audience for doctors to reach and give information, so it allows them to reach the youth population in a way that maybe they couldn’t have before,” Julia Jones, a TikTok user, said.

“I think it’s smart to spread news that way because a lot of people use it,” Tessa Ritchie said.

The app was launched in 2017, and its popularity has rapidly increased on a global scale.

“So you have the younger generation who used to be on Musical.ly now on TikTok, and you have an older generation that used to be really into Vine who have now come back to TikTok to sort of recreate what they had in Vine, so it’s like these two parts of Millennials and Gen Z have come together on this one app,” Jones said.

Business insider reports that TikTok was the world’s most popular non-gaming app in February 2020 with almost 2 billion downloads.

Some say this surge in popularity is due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

“I think it makes sense, people are bored and it’s an easy outlet to entertain yourself, and it’s also easy to get lost in the feed, so you can just watch video after video,” Jones said.

But TikTok is helping to remedy the effects of the pandemic in more ways than one. The app pledged $375 million to support coronavirus relief efforts, including $125 million in ad credits.

“I think it’s a really positive thing, and you can also see on the app all of the efforts they’re making because any video that has #coronavirus or #COVID-19 has a little warning at the bottom that says ‘click here for more information’ so you can see that they’re making an active effort,” Jones said.

And with half the world’s population under orders to stay at home, the app has helped users find a way to beat the cabin fever, and some think it’s here to stay.

“People aren’t going to delete the app after quarantine ends, and people are going to be now accustomed to spending so much time on TikTok they’re most likely going to keep doing that,” Jones said.

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