Social media plays a number of roles in people’s lives. These platforms influence the way people communicate, connect and transmit information. This is especially true for young people who revel in social media’s speed, accessibility and public nature.
TikTok is one such space. It’s a micro-video sharing social media platform where users can create short, usually funny, videos and share them with a broader community of individuals on the same platform and beyond. A report by Sensor Tower in December 2020 indicates that TikTok has been downloaded over 2.6 billion times worldwide. In January 2021 alone, it was downloaded 62 million times.
It’s very popular with young audiences – and Nigerians are no exception. Tiktok is gaining dominance by the day, and is gradually diverting young Nigerians from other social media platforms, like Instagram. Of all the social media apps in existence, TikTok gained a 31.9% market share within Nigeria in 2020.
Young people create and take part in viral challenges; they churn out funny and interesting videos such as short comedy skits and dance moves. And, as our new study shows, it boosted the mental health of some young Nigerians in the earlier days of the COVID pandemic, when lockdowns and isolation were the norm. Some even described it as therapeutic.
As a 25-year-old respondent from Abuja, Nigeria told us:
I don’t know what would have become of me if not for TikTok. When I make videos, I am surprised at the number of likes and comments I receive, and these likes and comments go a long way in making me happy…
We believe that by harnessing some of the attributes of TikTok videos, such as pranks and related content, Nigeria’s psychologists and others in the mental health space could find a new method to manage young people’s psychological challenges.