TikTok has become a controversial topic on college campuses, as many schools have recently banned its use on campus wifi due to security concerns.
However, for many users TikTok has become more than just another social media time suck, and is instead a place where they can learn about topics ranging from personal finance to DIY home improvement.
As this social media app is particularly popular with Gen Z, in January, Intelligent.com surveyed 1,000 current 4-year college students in the U.S. to ask about their use of TikTok when it comes to schoolwork.
- 51% of college students have used TikTok for help with academic work
- Of this group, 58% prefer using TikTok over other search engines
- More than half of users say they learn more on TikTok than in their classes
51% of College Students Use TikTok for Homework Help
More than half of the 1,000 4-year college students surveyed say they have used TikTok to help with their academic work. Of this group, one-third say they actually use it for help with 50% or more of their homework assignments.
Additionally, 34% of the total sample say they used TikTok to help write their college application essays.
“It’s no surprise that TikTok has grown in popularity among many users, especially Gen Z’ers, due to its wide variety of bite-sized content, entertaining video effects, and cultural trends,” comments education advisor Blanca Villagomez. “Like any social media platform, TikTok has its fair share of pros and cons if used as an educational tool.”
“In my profession, students often share with me new resources or tools that are improving their study habits, time management, and even productivity all because of TikToks they come across,” she explains. “Nowadays students have a shorter attention span and consuming content that is quick and easy to digest can make learning fun.”
“Plus, TikTok has a diverse community of creators which can expose students to a broader horizon of cultures, worldviews, and experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have access to in their day-to-day physical environments,” she continues.
Nearly 6 in 10 Prefer Using TikTok Over Other Search Engines
Although Google has been the search engine standard for many years, 58% of college TikTok users say they ‘somewhat’ (38%) or ‘much’ (20%) prefer using TikTok over other search engines when it comes to doing their schoolwork.
Eighty-two percent also said they believe the information they get from TikTok is ‘somewhat’ (65%) or ‘very’ (17%) trustworthy.
“While TikTok’s content can be educational and informative, there’s also a significant amount of content that is not credible or reliable and can spread misinformation,” advises Villagomez. “It’s important that we teach students how to develop a critical eye and seek out reliable sources of information.”
More Than Half Say They Learn More on TikTok Than in Their Classes
Fifty-three percent of college student TikTok users actually say they learn ‘somewhat’ (38%) or ‘much’ (15%) more on TikTok than they do in their classes. The top subjects respondents report using TikTok to learn about are math (44%) followed by English (41%) and art (39%).
“I think the biggest appeal is simply that TikTok is staying relevant to the learning needs of students,” explains Villagomez. “Gen Z’ers have embraced technology from a very early age and have an appetite for information that is simplified in a fun and engaging way.”
“In fact, their relationship with apps like TikTok is transforming the educational landscape. Some educators have even started incorporating similar video content apps in their curriculum to engage students,” she continues.
“We live in a digital era and there’s a great benefit in staying attuned to how our students learn and stay engaged. Educators can tap into their creativity and explore different types of visual content and activities that promote engagement and learning,” says Villagomez.
“However, introducing any new technology into the classroom requires due diligence to understand its suitability, limitations, and alignment with the educational goals of the institution. Additionally, it is important that any adaptation to new technology is screened for accessibility, especially for students with disabilities,” she finishes.
This survey was commissioned by Intelligent.com and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish from January 18-19, 2023. In total, 1,000 participants in the U.S. were surveyed. All participants had to pass through demographic filters to ensure they were currently a student and between the ages of 18 and 25. Respondents were also screened to include only current 4-year college students.
The survey used a convenience sampling method, and to avoid bias from this component Pollfish employs Random Device Engagement (RDE) to ensure both random and organic surveying. Learn more about Pollfish’s survey methodology or contact [email protected] for more information.