The most popular social media application for children to be on today is TikTok. TikTok is a video creating app that allows people to make anywhere up to a minute long video about absolutely anything. The app has many top creators that have millions of followers. Some of these people include fitness activists, creators who promote their cooking, and dancers. These TikTokers have some of the biggest influence over young children as of right now.
Priming theory is “a concept through which the media effects among the people are enhanced by providing a basic perception human minds take decisions based on the preconceptions that are already been stored in our memory” (Priming, 2014). Priming is especially relevant when our mind is aware of a concept, but that concept is continuously becoming more accessible.
Something that relates the those three different types of TikTok creators and priming theory is the issue of body insecurities. Young children are facing a major problem right now which is an increase in eating disorders and physical insecurities. It was reported that in a study “of young people aged 13–19, 35% said their body image causes them to ‘often’ or ‘always’ worry”(Body Image, 2020). Body image issues have always been relevant among teenagers, but because children are consuming so much media right now, they are constantly being reminded about what they could potentially look like.
An outcome of the current pandemic going on is that a lot of children are downloading TikTok to cure their boredom. 17 year old Kayla Christine Long was interviewed about the pressures that TikTok puts on young people and their body. She said: “Everyone has so much free time now and wants to get in shape, so creators are promoting very unhealthy habits.” In addition, Melody Young said “Fitspo’ images are back, unhealthy eating habits are constantly documented, and it can make it really difficult to avoid relapse when you’re randomly shown content that glorifies eating disorders” (Kaufman, 2020). Not only is TikTok promoting unhealthy content for children, but people who have survived eating disorders are constantly being shown potential triggers.
A key aspect of priming theory is vividness, meaning that content stays visible for a while after initially consuming it. Because TikTok shows random videos to users all the time, there is always a chance that these images and videos could be shown to our youth and survivors of eating disorders every day, thus causing issues with body insecurities and food insecurities.
Body image in childhood. (2020, August 06). Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/body-image-report/childhood
Kaufman, S. (2020, July 19). ‘It’s not worth it’: Young women on how TikTok has warped their body image. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/it-s-not-worth-it-young-women-how-tiktok-has-n1234193
Psychology. (2014, July 10). Priming. Retrieved September 23, 2020, from https://www.communicationtheory.org/priming/