TikTok's teens want to be famous. But at what cost?

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"Chasing Fame" is the archetypal occurrence of a caller CBS Reports documentary bid "Are the Kids All Right?" which explores the transformational shifts faced by today's youth, successful their ain words. Watch it successful the video subordinate above, oregon watercourse it connected the CBS News app or Paramount+.

Jiggy Turner is the astir celebrated idiosyncratic successful West Virginia. Or astatine least, helium thinks helium is.

"I mean societal media-wise, I'm the astir famous," helium said. "But there's Steve Harvey. He's beauteous celebrated too."

At 16, Turner amassed implicit 600,000 followers connected the societal media level TikTok. And that's conscionable successful the past 2 years. His abrupt popularity connected the app has led to lucrative marque deals and opportunities to enactment connected screen. By each counts, Turner is surviving the dream.

"Every kid wants to beryllium famous," helium joked. "Who wants to enactment a 9-to-5?"

Jiggy Turner Jiggy Turner CBS News

Turner is portion of a increasing question of teen influencers eschewing accepted vocation paths successful favour of a accidental astatine celebrity. In a recent survey, 54% of Generation Z said they'd similar to go an influencer, and 86% expressed involvement successful posting societal media contented for money. 

But lawmakers crossed the state are acrophobic that fashionable societal media apps could beryllium creating a intelligence wellness situation for America's youth. In his State of the Union, President Biden referred to Big Tech's "national experiment" on children.  In March, a bipartisan radical of authorities attorneys wide launched an investigation into TikTok's interaction connected kids and teens arsenic portion of a user extortion initiative. It's the latest enlargement of efforts to enact greater extortion for kids online. 

"As children and teens already grapple with issues of anxiety, societal pressure, and depression, we cannot let societal media to further harm their carnal wellness and intelligence well-being," said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, 1 of the AGs starring the investigation. 

In September 2021, leaked documents from Facebook revealed information connected harmful effects of the company's Instagram app connected young users, with teen girls bearing the brunt. (Facebook's genitor company, which has since been renamed Meta, said Instagram "helps galore teens who are struggling with immoderate of the hardest issues they experience.") One effect of the whistleblower's revelations was the instauration of the Kids Online Safety Act, a bill that would necessitate the companies to make features that support kids from the worst of societal media. 

Layla Ann VanHooser has firsthand cognition of the darker broadside of societal media. The 13-year-old gained astir 100,000 followers connected the app Musical.ly, which predated TikTok. At first, the app was a batch of fun. But erstwhile Musical.ly was purchased by TikTok, VanHooser's instrumentality basal shifted, and she struggled to find a caller assemblage that would link with her content. 

The bulk of her fans near affirmative comments. "I would hear, ohio my gosh, this girl's truthful funny," she recalled. But galore of her caller followers had little than benignant things to say, calling her "cringe" oregon insulting her appearance. At the time, she was lone 11 years old, and the comments stung. "My parents told maine I wasn't allowed to look astatine the comments," she said. (Unlike TikTok, Musical.ly did not restrict contented for users nether 13.)

verified-layla-2.jpg Layla Ann VanHooser CBS News

VanHooser has utilized wit to laughter disconnected the bullies, a method that has resonated with her fans. "Once, I got "no eyebrows," said VanHooser. So she made a TikTok with Sharpie-drawn eyebrows taped onto her fance. "It was like, present my eyebrows are here," she joked. "It was truly funny. Plus, I bash person eyebrows! Those comments made nary sense."

Now that VanHooser is 13, the minimum property for posting videos connected TikTok, she is utilizing her drama and creation to broadcast her anti-bullying message. "TikTok is for everyone," she beamed. "That's the connection I person for different girls."

Even with the nasty comments, erstwhile asked if she would similar to beryllium famous, VanHooser doesn't miss a beat. 

"I privation to beryllium famous. I would beryllium truthful excited if I got the bluish mark," she said, referring to the tiny awesome of verification that the app bestows connected its astir salient users.

verified-layla.jpg Layla looks astatine a TikTok video CBS News

Scaling backmost societal media usage among teens could beryllium to beryllium a herculean task. Roughly 37.3 million American teens usage TikTok. The mean TikTok idiosyncratic spends implicit 24 hours watching contented connected the app each month. 

"I cannot beryllium done a movie for the beingness of me," said VanHooser.  But she said she tin easy walk 4 hours connected the app successful a azygous sitting. "I just  beryllium determination and scroll." Even with the occasional bully, the app, she said, simply can't beryllium beat.

A setback — and a caller beginning

After 2 years of gathering up his follower base, Jiggy's relationship was banned, seemingly overnight. A self-described "hacker" targeted him with a bot attack, continuously flagging Jiggy's relationship for violations until yet TikTok simply closed the account. Then the hacker started a caller account. 

"He fundamentally stole my photos, my videos," Jiggy said. "And past helium started taking wealth for promos."  

Jiggy's inbox was soon flooded with aggravated emails from would-be clients, confused that they hadn't seen the promised promo connected Jiggy's account. The hacker, helium said, had stolen their money. "I consciousness similar it's truly damaged my reputation."

But Jiggy is inactive optimistic. He's notified TikTok of the incidental and is trying to retrieve his account. In the meantime, he's started a new account. So acold it's conscionable 50,000 followers, but it's picking up steam fast. Jiggy says it's been an important lesson. 

"In a batch of ways, starting implicit has been freeing. Like, I tin station immoderate I want. I don't conscionable request to support my aged fans happy." 

His caller fans subordinate to the caller Jiggy, who's older and wiser than erstwhile helium archetypal started retired connected TikTok 2 years ago. 

"It's been hard, but it's an accidental too," helium said. He's inactive assured helium volition marque it. 

In: TikTok