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Midland College professor reflects on the consequences of TikTok challenges

Jay Schwarz, a psychology professor at MC, explains why people participate in these trends and the consequences it has.

MIDLAND, Texas — TikTok: we have all heard of this unique platform where people, mostly young adults, dance, post funny videos and show creative content. 

We've also seen challenges, like the devious lick challenge, which involved students stealing items from school campuses like paper towel dispensers, cleaning products and even sinks and toilets.

Now there seems to be a new challenge on the platform, called the "Slap your Teacher" challenge.

NewsWest 9 spoke to Jay Schwarz, a psychology professor at MC, who explained why people participate in these trends and the consequences it has.

"People are watching, so they are more prone to do it rather than if it's just me by myself," said Schwarz. "People are watching, so that encourages that behavior. People are more susceptible to do it because now you have that crowd mentality and that social facilitation."

Schwarz said teens participate in these activities because they feel a sense of accomplishment.

"Especially if you get likes and heart emojis that's rewarding too," said Schwarz. "In psychology, Salomon Asch stated in the 1950s about how humans find conformality and try fitting in. When we think we fit in, that dopamine kicks in, so you want to get likes, more hits, and this type of pleasure."

Professor Schwarz believes not all videos online encourage violence. Other videos are actually helpful. Some show things like how to improve your home, workout routines and lifestyle hacks.

"It is not all bad, there are some positive to TikToks there," said Schwarz. "Some show DIY stuff like how to fix my toilet, how to renovate my kitchen, and there are even videos like what to buy on Amazon."

Schwarz wants people to remember that everything you post online will be there possibly forever.

"Once you put something on the internet, on Facebook or on TikTok, it's always there," Schwarz said. "Whether it is good or bad, and especially the bad, it can come back and haunt you."

If you're concerned about how your child is using social media, Schwarz emphasizes the importance of communication as a way to approach these situations.

"You have to have these TikTok discussions, the positive and negative," said Schwarz. "For me as a professor and teacher, we have to have these discussions to hear everyone's point of view."