TikTok: Gen Z’s Risky Alternative to Google

You might think kids just use TikTok to waste time watching cat videos and doing silly dances.

But they’re actually using it to learn about the world and form opinions — because TikTok is the new Google for Gen Z.

According to a new report from Search Engine Journal, 64% of those 27 and under are using TikTok as a search tool.

Rather than turn to Google — or a book — to ask a question or look for a recommendation, TikTok users are seeking out influencers and video creators on a foreign-owned app for answers on everything from medical advice to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

TikTok is quickly becoming Gen Z’s new portal to the rest of the internet.

A separate survey from Her Campus Media found that the top reasons Zoomers are ditching Google include a preference for video format, more relatable content and personalized answers.

Search engines compile information and answer queries, but while Google allows you to browse pages of options, TikTok serves a stream of videos, sucking users right into whatever content they’re fed.

TikTokers say that they prefer the app to Google because its results are more personalized. @rachelment/ TikTok
Experts are concerned that China could influence search results on TikTok. @shartmodeactivated/ TikTok

And the results on TikTok are unreliable at best and dangerous at worst.

A Zoomer searching for healthy eating tips might get pulled down a rabbit hole of fad diets and eating disorder content.

A search for “weight loss tips” yields crash diets promising you can lose 20 pounds in a week and influencers sharing their 1,000-calorie-a-day diets.

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