NEW YORK, New York — TikTok is the social media app that is currently defining Gen Z’s online presence. As one of the most downloaded apps of 2020, the app attracts various forms of entertainment. One way that young people are using TikTok is for activism and youth advocacy.
In April 2020, UNICEF found that social media platforms like TikTok are meaningful spaces for civic development and creative political expression. As such, TikTok’s youth advocacy has displayed such practices in regards to global poverty and has plenty of room to grow. From the 2020 Presidential Election to a worldwide Menstrual Campaign to normalize periods, TikTok has become a platform for Gen Z to spread awareness on the issues they care about. Here are four ways youth advocacy of global poverty has been displayed on TikTok.
Four Ways TikTok Facilitates Youth Advocacy
- Gen Z is more likely to care about social issues than older generations, including hunger and food insecurity. According to a Reach3 Insights Study on what drives advocacy on TikTok, 25% of Gen Z (ages 13 to 24) say that hunger and food insecurity are the most important issues that matter to them as of 2020.
- Viral TikTok youth advocacy campaigns are being utilized on a large scale, like through global nonprofits such as the Malala Fund. Malala Yousafzai, a Gen Z activist in her own right, introduced the Malala Fund TikTok account in December 2020. In the past eight months, the Malala Fund account has shared fundraising initiatives and shared educational material about the nonprofit’s efforts to educate young girls around the world.
- The United Nations is especially involved on TikTok. In addition to nonprofit advocacy efforts, international governmental organizations like the U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have been active on the app. The organization created a viral dance challenge with the hashtag #DanceforChange to support and learn more about young people living in rural, developing countries around the world. The challenge advocated for Gen Z to become involved in ending world hunger and supporting rural youth.
- Many TikTok conversations have emphasized awareness about global COVID-19 disparities. A viral TikTok challenge known as the Ghen Cô Vy dance challenge helped raise awareness for proper handwashing to stop the spread of COVID-19. Other users on TikTok have used their voices to educate others about the pandemic around the world, piggybacking on global health initiatives and organizations. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) even started their TikTok account in the early months of the pandemic to share statistics and advocate for safety.
In the Reach3 Insights Study, 54% of TikTok users said that the platform inspired them to participate in conversations with friends and relatives about social issues they saw on TikTok. 77% of users also said they generally learned more about activism and social issues through the app. With such strong beliefs and practices of youth advocacy displayed on TikTok, there is no doubt that global poverty activism will grow.
– Rebecca Fontana