Lockdown was undeniably a difficult time for everyone, however thanks to social media I felt as though I was able to stay connected to friends, family and the world around me. Not only was I able to keep up to date with COVID regulations and government updates using Twitter and the BBC news app, but I was also able to distract myself from the negatives. The Tiger King memes, the whipped coffee recipes and DIY hacks being shared online were just a few things which cheered me up during the lockdown. Plus who can forget the zoom quizzes, which arguably got pretty repetitive but were always a good laugh.

Things happened so fast during lockdown, like the rise and fall of the video call app, HouseParty which was all the rage one week then suddenly was being panic deleted off everyone’s phones due to data hacking rumours. My friends and I made the switch to Zoom making us part of the 2000% increase of new users during lockdown.

A recent report by Ofcom found that during the month of April people were spending 36% more time on social media with 18-24 year olds averaging 5 hours and 4 minutes online everyday. There was also a 26% increase in the usage of news apps, with the average time being spent on these at 15 minutes a day, no doubt people trying to make sense of everything happening. The Ofcom report also reiterates the rise in the apps Zoom and Houseparty. Zoom increased from around 660,000 users to 13million users and Houseparty went from 175,000 users to 4million.

Interestingly there was also a rise of actual phone calls with 30% more phone calls being made. Perhaps people were reaching out to potentially older loved ones who are not online. 

Another social media platform which thrived during the pandemic is TikTok. I remember only about a year ago when it would be considered so embarrassing to be seen with the app on your phone, now it also seems the opposite – if you’re not on TikTok then you’re missing out!

The Chinese originating parent company of TikTok bought the app and merged the two apps allowing TikTok to infiltrate the US target market as many younger people already had The app’s growth is incredible, in only a year and a half the app went from 500million users to over 1 billion (!!!) users with 850million of those being active monthly users. 

A lot of us turned to TikTok during lockdown as a way to distract from the dark reality we were in and used it as a way to have 10 minutes (…more like 2 hours) of laughs. Not only does the app provide humorous content but also creative ideas and trends to try out. 

TikTok has a reputation for being a dancing app (trust me it’s so much more) so songs can have a big influence on what is trending. One song goes viral on the app and it’ll shoot up in the charts. One example being when user @420doggface208 posted a video which gained over 11.3 million likes on (25th of September) of him skateboarding looking effortlessly cool with the song Dreams by Fleetwood Mac playing. This resulted in the song re-entering the US and UK charts for the first time in 7 years, with Mick Fleetwood even acknowledging and recreating the video himself.

Jason Derulo, pop legend, who has amassed almost 40million followers on TikTok has also found success with his music releases on the app.

Derulo collaborated with user @Jawsh_685 to sample a sound he heard and loved to create the hugely popular song Savage Love which topped the charts for  3 weeks. There was a viral dance trend which went with the song and the sound now has over 9 million videos made with it and over 530 million streams on spotify.

More recently Derulo and @Jawsh_685 have collaborated with K-pop royalty BTS to create a Savage Love remix which will have opened their music to a whole new audience. It is undeniable the power TikTok has over the music industry and the opportunities it can bring to people. 

Social media was a powerhouse during lockdown and was a way for many to remain connected to loved ones when feeling extremely lonely. Despite all the positives that come from social media there can be negatives, and one example demonstrated in this article is the volatility and the speed things can suddenly be kicked from the top spot. However, if you take social media at face value and act kindly online it can be enjoyed to its full potential.

Susie Cutler, 23 years old, Guildford